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'-. V ^SSf'tR^ 


'Scconb $me0. 



And banish ihe thoushu of day- 
"xhrreHless pul«of care, 
TkM follows aSua prayer." 


LONDON : Voa, b^t^ 
IpBUishna in Orbtnars to ^cr ^Biijuits Ibt tjiuen. 

[M/ Rights Sestrvtd.'] 

^Sl . 




I. ANNE ----- . I 

II. THE KEY OF THE CHURCH - - - - 1x6 


V. ROSE LODGE -.---- 236 

VI. LEE, THE LETTER-MAN - - - * 275 






H Y, what's the matter with you f 
cried the Squire. 

" Matter enough," responded old Coney, 
who had come hobbling into our house, and 
sat down with a groan. ** If you had the gout 
in your great toe, Squire, as I've got it in mine, 
you'd soon feel what the matter was." 

" You have been grunting over that gout 
for days past. Coney !" 

" So I have. It won't go in and it v^on't 
come out ; it stops there on purpose to torment 
me with perpetual twinges. I have been over 
to Timberdale Parsonage this morning, and the 
walk has pretty nigh done for me." 

The Squire laughed. We often did laugh at 

* This ^ paper, "Anne," ought to have been inserted 
before some of the papers which have preceeded it^ as the 
events it treats of took place earlier. 

VOL. III. \ 

2 Johnny Ludlow. 

Coney s gout : which never seemed to be very- 
bad, or to get beyond incipient " twinges." 

" Better have stayed at home and nursed your 
gout than have pranced off to Timberdale." 

" But I had to go," said the farmer. ** Jacob 
Lewis sent for me." 

Mr. Coney spoke of Parson Lewis, Rector 
of Timberdale. At this time the parson was 
on his last legs, going fast to his rest. His 
mother and old Coney's mother had been first 
cousins, which accounted for the intimacy be- 
tween the parsonage and the farm. It was East- 
ertide, and we were spending it at Crabb Cot. 

" Do you remember Thomas Lewis, the 
doctor ?" asked old Coney. 

** Remember him ! aye, that I do," was the 
Squire's answer. *' What of him T 

" He has been writing to the parson to take 
a house for him ; he and his daughter are 
coming to live in old England again. Poor 
"Lewis can't look out for one himself, so he has 
put it upon me. And much I can get about, 
with this lame foot I" 

*' A house at Timberdale ?" 

'* Either in the neighbourhood of Timber- 
dale or Crabb, Dr. Lewis writes : or he'd not 
mind Islip. I saw his letter. Jacob says 
there's nothing vacant at Timberdale at all 
likely to suit. We have been thinking of that 
little place over here, that the people have just 
S^one out oiV 

Anne. 3 

'' What little place ?" 

'* Maythorn Bank. 'Twould be quite large 

** And it's very pretty," added the Squire, 
'* Thomas Lewis coming back I Wonders will 
never cease. How he could reconcile himself 
to stay away all his life, I can't tell. Johnny 
lad, he will like to see you. He and your 
father were as thick as inkle weavers." 

"Aye! Ludlow was a good friend to him 
while he was doing nothing," nodded old 
Coney. " As to his staying away, I expect he 
could not afford to live in England. He has 
had a legacy left him now, he tells the parson. 
— What are you asking, Johnny T 

** Did I ever know Dr. Lewis ?" 

** Not you, lad. Thomas Lewis went abroad 
ages before you were born, or thought of. 
Five-and-twenty years he must have been 

" More than that," said the Squire. 

This Thomas Lewis was half-brother to the 
Rector of Timberdale, but was not related to 
the Coneys. He served his time, when a boy, 
to a surgeon at Worcester. In those days 
young men were apprenticed to doctors just as 
they were to other trades. Young Lewis was 
steady and clever ; but so weak in health that 
when he was qualified and ought to have set 
up on his own account, he could not. People 
were wondering what would become oS. \vvk\^ 

1 — 2 

4 Johnny Ludlow. 

for he had no money, when by one of those 
good chances that rarely fail in time of need, 
he got a post as travelling companion. to a 
nobleman, rich and sickly, who was going to 
reside in the warmth of the south of France. 
They went. It brought up Thomas Lewis's 
health well ; made quite another man of him ; 
and when, a little later, his patron died, he 
found that he had taken care of his future. He 
had left the young surgeon a competency of 
two hundred a year. Mr. Lewis stayed on 
where he was, married a lady who had some 
. small means, took a foreign medical degree to 
become Dr. Lewis, and obtained a little practice 
amidst the English that went to the place in 
winter. They had been obliged to live frugally, 
though an income of from two to three hundred 
a year goes a great deal farther over the water 
than it does in England : and perhaps the lack 
of means to travel had kept Dr. Lewis from 
visiting his native land. Very little had been 
known of him at home ; the letters interchanged 
by him and the parson were few and far between. 
Now, it appeared, the doctor had again dropped 
into a legacy of a few hundred pounds, and 
was coming back with his daughter — an only 
child. The wife was dead. 

Maythorn Bank, the pretty little place spoken 
of by Mr. Coney, was taken. It belonged to 
Sir Robert Tenby. A small, red-brick house, 
standing in a flower garden, with a delightful 

Anne. 5 

view from its windows of the charming Wor- 
cestershire scenery and the Malvern Hills in 
the distance. Excepting old Coneys great 
rambling farm-homestead close by, it was the 
nearest house to our own. But the inside, 
-when it came to be looked at, was found to be 
in a state of dilapidation, not at all fit for a 
gentleman's habitation. Sir Robert Tenby was 
applied to, and he gave directions that it should 
be put in order. 

Before this was completed, the Rector of 
Timberdale died. He had been suffering from 
ailments and sorrow for a long while ; and in the 
sweet spring season, the season that he had 
loved above all other seasons, when the May 
birds were singing and the May flowers were 
blooming, 4ie crossed the river that divides us 
from the eternal shores. 

Mr. Coney had to see to the new house then 
upon his own responsibility ; and when it was 
finished and the workmen were gone out of it, 
he went over to Worcester, following Dr. 
Lewis's request, and ordered in a sufficiency of 
plain furniture. By the middle of June all was 
ready, a maid-servant engaged, and the doctor 
and his daughter were at liberty to come when 
they pleased. 

We had just got home for the Midsummer 
holidays when they arrived. Old Coney took 
me to the station to meet them ; he said there 
might be parcels to carry. Once, a ¥ tetvOcvW^^j 

6 Johnny Ludlow. 

had come on a visit to the farm, and she 
brought with her fifteen small hand-packages 
and a bandbox. 

" And these people are French too, you see, 
Johnny/' reasoned old Coney. ** Lewis can't 
be called anything better, and the girl was born 
there. Can't even speak English, perhaps. 
Tm sure he has had time to forget his native 

But they spoke English just as readily and 
fluently as we did ; even the young lady, Anne, 
had not the slightest foreign accent. And 
there were no small packages, nothing but three 
huge trunks and a sort of large reticule, which 
she carried herself, and would not give up to 
me. I liked her looks the moment t saw her. 
You know I always take lik-es or dislikes. A 
rather tall girl, light and graceful, with a candid 
face, a true and sweet voice, and large, soft brown 
eyes that met mine frankly and fearlessly.* 

But the doctor ! He was- .like a shadow. 
A tall man with stooping shoulders ; handsome, 
thin features, hollow cheeks, and scanty hair. 
But every look and movement bespoke the 
gentleman ; every tone of his low. voice was 
full of considerate courtesy. 

" What a poor weak felloy I" lamented old 
Coney aside to mj^ "It's just the Thomas 
Lewis of the years gone by;, no health, no 
stamina. I'm afraid he is only*c6me home to 

Anne. 7 

They liked the house, and liked everything 
in it ; and he thanked old Coney very earnestly 
for the trouble he had taken. I never saw a 
man, as I learnt later, so considerate for the 
feelings of others, or so grateful for any little 
service rendered to himself 

" It is delightful," said Miss Lewis, smiling at 
me. " I shall call it our little chS.teau. And those 
hills in the distance are the beautiful Malvern 
Hills that my father has so often told me of!" 

'* How well you speak English !" I said. 
*' Just as we do." 

** Do you suppose I could do otherwise, when 
my father and my mother were English } It is 
in truth my native tongue. I think I know 
England. better than France, I have always 
heard so much of it." 

** But you speak French as a native i^" 

*' Oh, of course. German also." 

*^ Ah, I see you are an accomplished young 
lady. Miss Lewis." 

** I am just the opposite," she said, with a 
laugh. ** I never learnt accomplishments. I 
do not play ; I do not sing ; I do not draw ; 
I do not — but yes, I do dance : everybody 
dances in France. Ours was not a rich home, 
and my dear mother brought me up to be use- 
ful in it. I can "make my own- clothes ; I can 
cQok you an omelette, or-^^ " 

•* Anne, this, is Mr. Todhetley," interrupted 
her father. 

8 Johnny Ludlow. 

The Squire had come in through the open 
glass doors, round which the jessamine was 
blooming. When they had talked a bit, he 
took me up to Dr. Lewis. 

'* Has Coney told you who he is ? William 
Ludlow's son. You remember him f " 

** Remember William Ludlow ! I must for- 
get myself before I could forget him," was the 
doctor's answer, as he took both my hands in 
his and held me before him to look into my 
eyes. The tears were rising in his own. 

" A pleasant face to look at," he was pleased 
to say. **But they did not name him William ?" 

" No. We call him Johnny." 

" One generation passes away and another 
springs up in its place. How few, how few of 
those I knew are now left to welcome me ! 
Even poor Jacob has not stayed." 

Tears seemed to be the fashion just then. 
I turned away, when released, and saw them in 
Miss Lewis's eyes as she stood against the 
window-sill, absently playing with the white- 
flowered jessamine. 

" When they begin to speak of those who 
are gone, it always puts me in mind of mamma," 
she said, in a whisper, as if she would apologise 
to me for the tears. " I can*t help it.*' 

*' Is it long since you lost her ?" 

** Nearly two years ; and home has not been 
the same to papa since. I do my best ; but I 
am not my mother. I think it was that which 

Anne. 9 

made papa resolve to come to England when 
he found he could afford it. Home is but 
triste, you see, when the dearest one it con- 
tained has gone out of it.'* 

It struck me that the house could not have 
had one dearer in it than Anne. She was 
years and years older than I, but I began to 
wish she was my sister. 

And her manners to the servant were so nice 
— a homely country girl, named Sally, engaged 
by Mr. Coney. Miss Lewis told the girl that 
she hoped she would be happy in her new 
place, and that she would help her when there 
was much work to do. Altogether Anne Lewis 
was a perfect contrast to the fashionable dam- 
sels of that day, who could not make them- 
selves out to appear too fine. 

The next day was Sunday. We had just 
finished breakfast, and Mrs. Todhetley was 
nursing her toothache, when Dr. Lewis came 
in, looking more shadowy than ever in his 
black Sunday clothes, with the deep band on 
his hat. They were going to service at 
Timberdale, and he wanted me to go with 

" Of course I have not forgotten the way to 
Timberdale," said he ; ** but there's an odd, shy 
feeling upon me of not liking to walk about the 
old place by myself. Anne is strange to it also. 
We shall soon get used to it, I dare say. Will 
you go, Johnny T' 

10 Johnny Lndlow. 

" Yes, sin' 

'* Crabb church is close by, Lewis," remarked 
the Squire, " and it's a steaming hot day." 

" But I must go to Timberdale this morning. 
It was poor Jacob's church, you know, for many 
years. And though he is no longer there, I 
should like to see the desk and pulpit which he 

"Aye, to be sure," readily acquiesced the 
Squire. '* Td go with you myself, Lewis, but 
for the heat." 

Dr. Lewis said he should take the roadway, 
not the short cut through Crabb Ravine. It 
was a good round, and we had to start early. 
I liked Anne better than ever : no one could 
look nicer than she did in her trim black dress. 
As we walked along. Dr. Lewis frequently halted 
to recognise old scenes, and ask me was it this 
place, or that. 

" That fine place out yonder ?" he cried, stop- 
ping to point to a large stone house half a mile 
off the road, partly hidden amidst its beautiful 
grounds. *' I ought to know whose it is. Let 
me see !" 

** It is Sir Robert Tenby's seat — Bellwood. 
Your landlord, sir," 

** Aye, to be sure — Bellwood. In my time it 
was Sir George's, though." 

" Sir George died five or six years ago." 

" Has Sir Robert any family } He must be 
middle-aged now." 

Anne. \ £ 

'* I think he is forty-five, or so. He is not 

'' Does he chiefly live here ?" 

" About half his time ; the rest he spends at 
his house in London. He lives very quietly. 
We all like Sir Robert." 

We sat in the rector's pew, having it to our- 
selves. Herbert Tanerton did the duty, and gave 
a good sermon. Nobody yet was appointed to 
the vacant living, which was in Sir Robert 
Tenby's gift. Herbert, meanwhile, took charge 
of the parish, and many people thought he would 
get it — as he did, later. 

The Bellwood pew faced the rector's, and Sir 
Robert sat in it alone. A fine-looking man, 
with greyish hair, and a homely face that you 
took to at once. He seemed to pay the greatest 
attention to Herbert Tanerton's sermon ; pos- 
sibly was deliberating whether he was worthy of 
the living, or not. In the pew behind him sat 
Mrs. Macbean, an old lady who had been house- 
keeper at Bellwood during two generations ; and 
the Bellwood servants sat farther down. 

We were talking to Herbert Tanerton outside 
the church after service, when Sir Robert came 
up and spoke to the parson. He, Herbert, 
introduced Dr. Lewis to him as the late rector's 
brother. Sir Robert shook hands with him at 
once, smiled pleasantly at Anne, and nodded to 
me as he continued his way. 

" Do you like your house ?" asked Wet^etx.* 

12 Johnny Ludlow. 

** I shall like it by-and-by, no doubt/' was the 
doctor s answer. '^ I should like it now but for 
the paint. The smell is dreadful." 

" Oh, that will soon go off," cried Herbert. 

** Yes, I hope so : or I fear it will make me 

In going back we took Crabb Ravine, and 
w^ere at home in no time. They asked me to 
stay dinner, and I did so. We had a loin of 
lamb, and a raspberry tart, if anybody's curious 
to know. Dr. Lewis had taken a fancy to me : 
I don't know why, unless it was that he had liked 
my father ; and I'm sure I had taken one to 
them. But the paint did smell badly, and that's 
the truth. 

In all my days I don't think I ever saw a man 
so incapable as Dr. Lewis ; so helpless as to the 
common affairs of life. What he would have 
done without Anne, I know not. He was just 
fit to sit down and be led like a child ; to have 
said to him — Come here, go there ; do this, do 
the other. Therefore, when he asked me to run 
in in the morning and see if he wanted anything, 
I was not surprised. Anne thought he might 
be glad of my shoulder to lean upon when he 
walked about the garden. 

It was past eleven when I got there, for I had 

to do an errand first of all for the Squire. Anne 

was kneeling down in the parlour amidst a lot 

of small cuttings of plants which she had brought 

from France. They lay on the carpet on pieces 

Anne. 13 

of paper. She wore a fresh white cotton gown, 
with black dots upon it, and a black bow at the 
throat ; and she looked nicer than ever. 

'* Look here, Johnny ; I don't know what to 
do. The labels have all come off, and I can't tell 
which is which. I suppose I did not fasten 
them on securely. Sit down — if you can find a 

The chairs and tables were strewed with 
books, most of them French, and other small 
articles, just unpacked. I did not want a chair, 
but knelt down beside her, asking if I could 
help. She said no, and that she hoped to be 
straight by the morrow. The doctor had 
stepped out, she did not know where, " to escape 
the smell of the paint.'' 

I was deep in the pages of one of the books, 
" Les Contes de ma Bonne," which Anne said 
was a great favourite of hers, though it was 
meant for children ; and she had her head, as 
before, bent over the green sprigs and labels, 
when a shadow, passing the open glass doors, 
glanced in and halted. I supposed it must be 
the doctor ; but it was Sir Robert Tenby. Up 
I started ; Anne did the same quietly, and 
quietly invited him in. 

*' I walked over to see Dr. Lewis, and to ask 
whether the house requires anything else done 
to it," he explained. '' And I had to come early, 
as I am leaving the neighbourhood this after- 

14 Johnny Ludlow. 

*^ Oh, thank you/* said Anne, *' it is very kind 
of you to come. Will you please to sit down, 
sir ?" hastily taking the books off a chain " Papa 
is out, but I think he will not be long." 

" Are you satisfied with the house ?" he 

" Quite so, sir ; and I do not think it wants 
anything done to it at all. I hope you will not 
suppose we shall keep it in this state," she 
added, rather anxiously. "When things are 
being unpacked, the rooms are sure to look 

Sir Robert smiled. " You seem very notable. 
Miss Lewis." 

" Oh, I do everything,*' she answered, 
smiling back. ** There is nobody else." 
. > He had not taken the chair, but went out, 
saying he should probably meet Dr. Lewis — 
leaving a message for him, about the house, in 
case he did not. 

" He is your great and grand man of the 
neighbourhood, is he not, Johnny ?" said Anne, 
as she knelt down on the carpet again. 

'* Oh, he is grand enough." 

" Then don't you think he is, considering 
that fact, very pleasant and affable ? Tm sure 
he is as simple and free in manners and speech 
as we are." 

" Most grand men — if they are truly great — 
are that. Your upstarts assume no end of 

airs. " 

Anne. 1 5 

*' I know who will never assume airs, Johnny. 
He has none in him." 

*^ Who's that r 

" Yourself." 

It made me laugh. I had nothing to assume 
them for. 

It was either that afternoon or the following 
one that Dr. Lewis came up to the Squire and 
old Coney as they were talking together in the 
road. He told them that he could not possibly 
stay in the house ; he should be laid up if he 
did ; he must go away until the smell from the 
paint was gone. That he was looking ill, both 
saw ; and they believed he did not complain 
without cause. 

The question was, where could he go ? Mr. 
Coney hospitably offered him house-room ; but. 
the doctor, while thanking him, said the smell 
might last a long while, and he should prefer to 
be independent. He had been thinking of 
going with Anne to Worcester for a time. Did 
they know of lodgings there ? 

" Better go to an hotel,'' said the Squire. 
'' No trouble at an hotel." 

** But hotels are not always comfortable. I 
cannot feel at home in them/' a^rgued the poor 
doctor. *' And they cost too much besides." 

^'You might chance to hit upon lodgings 
where you'd not be any more comfortable, 
Lewis. And they'd be very dull for you." 

" There's Lakes boarding-hou^e,'' ^\3i\. vcv cJA 

1 6 Johnny Ludlow. 

Coney, while the doctor was looking blank and 

*' A boarding-house ? Aye, that might do, 
if it's not a noisy one." 

" It's not noisy at all," cried the Squire. 
'* It's uncommonly well conducted : sometimes 
there are not three visitors in the house. You 
and Miss Lewis would be comfortable there." 

And for Lake's boarding-house Dr. Lewis 
and Anne took their departure on the very 
next day. If they had but foreseen the trouble 
their stay at it would lead to ! 

Lake's boarding-house stood near the cathe- 
dral. A roomy house, with rather shabby 
furniture in it : but in boarding. houses and 
lodgings people don% as a rule, look for gilded 
chairs and tables. Some years before, Mrs. 
Lake, the wife of a professional man, and a 
gentlewoman, was suddenly left a widow with 
four infant children, boys, and nothing to keep 
them upon. What to do she did not know. 
And it often puzzles me to think what such 
poor ladies do do, left in similar straits. 

She had her furniture ; and that was about 
all. Friends suggested that she should take a 
house in a likely situation, and try for some 
lady boarders ; or perhaps for some of the 
college boys, whose homes lay at a distance. 
]>lot to /nake too long a story of it, it was what 

Anne. 1 7 

she did do. And she had been in the house 
ever since, struggling on (for these houses 
mostly do entail a struggle), sometimes flourish- 
ing in numbers, sometimes down in the dumps 
with empty rooms. But she had managed to 
bring the children up : the two elder ones were 
out in the world, the two younger were still in 
the coHege school. Mrs. Lake was a meek 
little woman, ever distracted with practical 
cares, especially a? to stews and gravies : Miss 
Dinah Lake (her late husband's sister, and a 
majestic lady of middle age), who lived with 
her, chiefly saw to the company. 

But now, would anybody believe that Dr. 
Lewis was " that shy," • as their maid, Sally, 
expressed it — or perhaps you would rather call 
it helpless — that he begged the Squire to let 
me go with him to Lake's. Otherwise he 
should be lost, he said ; and Anne, accustomed 
to French ways and habits, could not be of much 
use to him in a strange boarding-house : Johnny 
knew the house, and would feel at home there. 

When Captain Sanker and his wife (if you 
have not forgotten them) first came to Wor- 
cester, they stayed at Lake's while fixing on a 
residence, and that's how we became tolerably 
well acquainted with the Lakes. This year 
that I am now telling of was the one that pre- 
ceded the accident to King Sanker, told of in 
the last volume. And, in point of rotation, this 
paper ought to have appeared first, 

VOL. III. 1 

i8 Johnny Ludlow. 

So I went with Dr. Lewis and Anne. It was 
late in the afternoon when we reached Worcester, 
close upon the dinner-hour — which was five 
o'clock, and looked upon as quite a fashionable 
hour in those days. The dinner-bell had rung, 
and the company had filed into dinner when we 
got downstairs. 

But there was not much company staying in 
the house. Mrs. Lake did not appear at 
dinner, and Miss Dinah Lake took the head of 
the table. It happened more often than not 
that Mrs. Lake was in the kitchen, superintend- 
ing the dishing-up of the dinner and seeing to 
the ragouts and sauces ; especially upon the 
advent of fresh inmates, when the fare would 
be unusually* plentiful. Mrs. Lake often said 
she was a *' born cook ;" which was lucky, as 
she could not afford to keep first-rate servants. 

Miss Dinah sat at the head of the table, in a 
rustling green gown and primrose satin cap. 
Having an income of her own she could afford 
to dress. (Mrs. Lake's best gown was black 
silk, thin and scanty.) Next to Miss Dinah 
sat a fair, plump little woman, with round green 
eyes and a soft voice : at any rate, a soft way 
of speaking : who was introduced to us as Mrs. 
Captain Podd. She in turn introduced her 
daughters, Miss Podd and Miss Fanny Podd : 
both fair like their mother, and with the same 
kind of round green eyes. A Mr. and Mrs. 
Mitchell completed the company; two silent 
people who seemed to do notVung b\]it e:^X. 

Anne. 19 

Dr. Lewis sat by Mrs. Captain Podd : and 
very pleasant and attentive the doctor found 
her. He was shy as well as helpless ; but she 
talked to him freely in her low soft voice and 
put him altogether at his ease. My place 
chanced to be next to Miss Fanny Podd's : and 
she began at once to put me at my ease, as her 
mother was putting the doctor. 

"You are a stranger here, at the dinner- 
table," observed Miss Fanny ; " but we shall 
be good friends presently. People in this house 
soon become sociable." 

" I am glad of that" 

" I did not quite hear your name. Did you 
catch mine ? — Fanny Podd." 

" Yes. 'Thank you. Mine is Ludlow." 

" I suppose you never were at Worcester 
before ?" 

" Oh, I know Worcester very well indeed. 
I live in Worcestershire.'' 

" Why I" cried the young lady, neglecting 
her soup to stare at me, " we heard you had 
just come over from living in France. Miss 
Dinah said so — that old guy at the top, yonder." 

" Dr. and Miss Lewis have just come from 
France. Not L I know Miss Dinah Lake 
very well." 

" Do you ! Don't go and tell her I called 
her an old guy. Mamma wants to keep in 
with Miss Dinah, or she might be disagreeable. 
What a stupid town Worcester isV • 

20 Johnny Ludlow. 

Perhaps you do not know many people 
m It. 

'*We don't know anybody. We had been 
staying last in a garrison town. That was 
pleasant : so many nice officers about You 
could not go to the window but there'd be some* 
in sight. Here nobody seems to pass by but 
a crew of staid old parsons." 

" We are near the cathedral ; that's why you 
see so many parsons. Are you going to remain 
long in Worcester ?" 

" That's just as the fancy takes mamma. 
We have been here already six or seven weeks." 

*' Have you no settled home ?" 

Miss Fanny Podd pursed up her lips and 
shook her head. " We like change best. A 
settled home would be wretchedly dull. Ours 
was given up when papa died." 

Thus she entertained me to the end of 
dinner. We all left the table together — wine 
was not in fashion at Lake's. Those who 
wanted any had to provide it for themselves : 
but the present company seemed to be satisfied 
with the home-brewed ale. Mrs. Captain Podd 
put her arm playfully into that of Dr. Lewis, 
and said she would show him the way to the 

And so it went on all the evening : she 
making herself agreeable to the doctor : Miss 
Podd to Anne ; Fanny to me. Of course it 
was highly good-natured of them. Mrs. Podd 

Anne. 2 1 

discovered that the doctor liked backgammon ; 
and she looked for a moment as cross as a wasp 
on finding there was no board in the house. 

"Quite an omission, my dear Miss Dinah," she 
said, smoothing away the frown with a sweet 
rsmile. "I thought a backgammon-board was as 
necessary to a house as are chairs and tables." 

" Mrs. Lake had a board once," said Miss 
Dinah ; " but the boys got possession of it, and 
somehow it was broken. We have chess — 
and cribbage." 

" Would you like a hand at cribbage, my dear 
sir !*" asked Mrs. Podd of the doctor. 

" Don't play it, ma'am," said he. 

" Ah " — with a little drawn-out sigh. ** Julia, 
love, would you mind singing one of your quiet 
songs ? Or a duet. Fanny, sweetest, try a 
quiet duet with your sister. Go to the piano." 

If they called the duet quiet, I wondered what 
they'd call noisy. You might have heard it 
over at the cathedral. Their playing and 
singing was of the style known as *^ showy." 
Some people admire it : but it is a good thing 
ear-drums are not easily cracked. 

The next day Mrs. Podd made the house a 
present of a backgammon-board : and in] the 
evening she and Dr. Lewis sat down to play. 
Our number had decreased, for Mr. and Mrs* 
Mitchell had left ; and Mrs. Lake dined with 
us, taking the foot of the table. Miss Dinah 
always, I found, kept the head. 


22 Johmy Ludlow. 

: '*' She IS so much better calculated to preside 
than I am/' whispered meek Mrs. Lake to me 
later in the evening ; as, happening to pass the 
kitchen-door after dinner, I saw her in there, 
making the coffee. '* What should I do with- 
out Dinah !" 

" But need you come out to make the coffee, 
Mrs. Lake ?" 

" My dear, when I leave it to the servants, it 
is not drinkable. I am rather sorry Mrs. Podd 
makes a point of having coffee in an evening. 
Our general rule is to give only tea." 

'* rd not give in to Mrs. Podd." 

" Well, dear, we like to be accommodating 
when we can. Being my cousin, she orders 
. things more freely than our ladies usually do. 
Dinah calls her exacting ; but '' 

** Is Mrs. Podd your cousin V I interrupted, 
in surprise. 

'* My first cousin. Did you not know it? 
Her mother and my mother were sisters." 

" The girls don't call you * aunt.' " 
. " They do sometimes when we are alone. I 
suppose they think I am beneath them — keeping 
a boarding-house." 

I had not much liked the Podds at first : as 
the days went on I liked them less. They were 
not sincere : I was quite sure of it ; Mrs. Podd 
especially. But the manner in which she had 
taken Dr. Lewis under her wing was marvellous. 
He began to think he could not move without 

Anne. 2X 


her: he was as one who has found a sheet- 
anchor. She took trouble of all kinds from him : 
her chief aim seemed to be to make his life pass 
pleasantly. She'd order a carriage and take 
him for a drive in it; she'd parade the High 
Street on his arm ; she'd sit with him in the 
Green within the enclosure, though Miss Dinah 
told her one day she had not the right of entrance 
to it; she'd walk him off to inspect the monuments 
in the cathedral, and talk with him in the cloisters 
of the old days when Cromwell stabled his horses 
there. After-dinner they would play backgammon 
till bed time. And with it all, she was so gay and 
sweet and gentle, that Dr. Lewis thought she 
must be a very angel come out of heaven. 

** Johnny, I don't like her/* said Anne to me 
one day. " She seems to take papa completely 
out of my hands. She makes him feel quite in- 
dependent of me." 

" You like her as well as I do, Anne." 
"This morning I found him in the drawing- 
room ; alone^ for a wonder : he was gazing up 
in his abstracted way, as if wanting to discover 
what the pinnacles of the cathedral were made 
of, which look to be so close, you know, from the 
windows of that room. * Papa, you are lonely/ 
I said. * Would you like to walk out ? — or what 
would you like to do ?' ' My dear, Mrs. Podd 
will see to it all/ hie answered ; * don't trouble 
yourself; I am waiting for her.' It is just as 
though he had no more need of me." 

24 Johnny Ludlow. 

" Anne Lewis turned away to hide her wet 
eyelashes. For my part, I thought the sooner 
Mrs. Captain Podd betook herself from Lake's 
boarding-house, the better. It was too much of 
a good thing. 

That same afternoon I heard some conver- 
sation not meant for me. Behind the house 
was a square patch of ground called a garden, 
containing a few trees and some sweet herbs. 
I was sitting on the bench there, underneath 
the high, old-fashioned dining-room windows, 
thinking how hot the sun was, wishing for some- 
thing to do, and wondering when Dr. Lewis 
meant to send me home. He and Mrs. Podd 
were out together ; Anne was in the kitchen, 
teaching Mrs. Lake some mysteries of French 
cookery. Miss Dinah sat in the dining-room, 
in her spectacles, darning table-cloths. 

**Oh, have you come in !" I suddenly heard 
her say, as the door opened. And it was Mrs. 
Podd's voice which answered. 

** The sun is so very hot : poor dear Dr. 
Lewis felt quite ill. He is gone up to his room 
for half an hour to sit quietly in the shade. 
Where are my girls ?" 

" Tm sure I don't know," replied Miss Dinah : 
and it struck me that her tone of voice was 
rather crusty. " Mrs. Podd, I must again ask 
you when you will let me have some money ?" 

'* As soon as I can," said Mrs. Podd: who 
seemed, by the sound, to have thrown herself 

Anne. 25 

upon a chair, and to be fanning her face with a 
rustling newspaper. 

** But you have said that for some weeks. 
When is the * soon ' to be ?'* 

** You know I have been disappointed in my 
remittances. It is really too hot for talking." 

" I know that you say you have. But we 
cannot go on without some money. The ex- 
penses of this house are heavy : how are they to 
be kept up if our guests don't pay us? Indeed you 
must let me have part of your account, if not all.*' 

" My dear sweet creature, the house is not 
yours," returned Mrs. Podd, in her most honeyed 

** I manage it," said Miss Dinah, " and am 
responsible for the getting-in of the accounts. 
You know that our custom is to be paid weekly." 

" Exactly, dear Miss Dinah. But I am sure 
that my cousin, Emma Lake, would not wish to 
inconvenience me. I am indebted to her ; not 
to you ; and I will pay her as soon as I can. 
My good creature, how can you sit stewing over 
that plain sewing this sultry afternoon !" 

" I am obliged to," responded Miss Dinah. 
" We have not money to spend on new linen : 
trouble enough, it is, I can assure you, to keep 
the old decent." 

" I should get somebody to help me. That 
young woman. Miss Lewis, might do it : she 
seems to have been used to all kinds of work." 

" I wish/ou would shut that door : 7qw\v^\^ 

26 Johntiy Ltidlow. 

left it open/' retorted Miss Dinah : " I don't 
like sitting in a draught, though it is hot. And 
I must beg of you to understand, Mrs. Podd, 
that we really cannot continue to keep you and 
your daughters here unless you can manage to 
give us a little money." 

By the shutting of the door and the silence 
that ensued, it was apparent that Mrs. Podd 
had departed, leaving Miss Dinah to her table- 
cloths. But now, this had surprised me. For, 
to hear Mrs. Captain Podd and her daughters 
talk, and to see the way in which they dressed, 
one could not have supposed they were ever at 
a fault for ready cash. 

At the end of ten days I went home. Dr. 
Lewis no longer wanted me : he had Mrs. 
Podd. And I think it must have been about 
ten days after that, that we heard the doctor 
and' Anne were returning. The paint smelt 
still, but not as badly as before. 

They did not come alone. Mrs. Podd and 
her two daughters accompanied them to spend 
the day. Mrs. Podd was in a ravishing new 
toilette ; and I hoped Lake's boarding-house 
had been paid. 

Mrs. Podd went into raptures over Maythorn 
Bank, paint and all. It was the sweetest little 
place she had ever been in, she said, and some 
trifling, judicious care would convert it into a 

I know who had the present care; and that 

Anne. 27 

was Anne. They got over about twelve o'clock ; 
and as soon as she had seen the ladies' things 
off, and they comfortably installed in the best 
parlour, its glass doors standing open to the 
fragrant flower-beds, she put on a big apron in 
the kitchen and helped Sally to get the dinner. 

" Need you do it, Anne ?" I said, running in, 
having seen her crumbling bread as I passed 
the window. 

** Yes, I must, Johnny. Papa bade me have 
a nice dinner served to-day : and Sally is 
inexperienced, you know. She can roast and 
boil, but she knows nothing about the little 
dishes he likes. To tell you the truth," added 
Anne, glancing meaningly into my eyes for a 
moment, " I would rather be cooking here than 
talking with them there." 

*' Are you sorry to leave Worcester ?" 

" Yes, and no," she answered. " Sorry to 
leave Mrs. Lake and Miss Dinah, for I like 
them both : glad to be at home again and to 
have papa to myself. I shall not cry if we 
never see Mrs. Podd again. Perhaps I am 
mistaken ; and Tm sure I did not think that the 
judging of others uncharitably was one of my 
faults ; but I cannot help thinking that she has 
tried to estrange papa from me. I suppose 
it is her way : she cannot have any real wish to 
do it. However, she goes back to-night, and 
then it will be over." 

'' Who is at Lake's novi r 

28 Johnny Ludlow. 

" Nobody — except the Podds. I am sorry, 
for I fear they have some difficulty to make 
both ends meet." 

Was It over ! Anne Lewis reckoned without 
her host. 

I was running in to Maythorn Bank the next 
morning, when I saw the shimmer of Anne's 
white garden-bonnet and her morning dress 
amidst the raspberry-bushes, and turned aside to 
greet her. She had a basin in her hand, picking 
the fruit, and the hot tears were running down 
her cheeks. Conceal her distress she could not ; 
any attempt would have been worse than futile. 

" Oh, Johnny, she is going to marry him 1" 
cried she, with a burst of sobs. 

** Going to marry him I — who "i what ?" I 
asked, taking the basin from her hand : for I 
declare that the truth did not strike me. 

'^ She is. Mrs. Podd. She is going to 
marry papa." 

For a moment she held her face against the 
apple-tree. The words confounded me. More 
real grief I had never seen. My heart ached 
for her. 

" Don't think me selfish," she said, turning 

presently, trying to subdue the sobs and wiping 

the tears away. " I hope I am not that : or 

undutiful. It is not for myself that I grieve; 

indeed, it is not ; but for him." 

Anne. 29 

I knew that. 

" If I could but think it would be for his 
happiness ! But oh, I fear it will not be. 
Something seems to tell me that it will not. 
And if — he should be — uncomfortable after- 
wards — miserable afterwards ! — I think the 
distress would kill me." 

" Is it true, Anne ? How did you hear it ?" 

** True ! Too true, Johnny. At breakfast 
this morning papa said, ' We shall be dull to- 
day without our friends, Anne.' I told him I 
hoped not, and that I would go out with him, 
or read to him, or do anything else he liked : 
and I reminded him of his small stock of choice 
books that he used to be so fond of. *Yes, 
yes, we shall be very dull, you and I alone in 
this strange house,' he resumed. ' I have been 
thinking for some time we should be, Anne, and 
so I have asked that dear, kind, lively woman 
to come to us for good.' I did not understand 
him ; I did not indeed, Johnny ; and papa went 
on to explain. ' You must know that I allude 
to Mrs. Podd, Anne,' he said. * When I saw 
her so charmed with this house yesterday, and 
we were talking about my future loneliness in 
it — and she lamented it, even to tears — one 
word led to another, and I felt encouraged to 
venture to ask her to share it and be my wife. 
And so, my dear, it is all settled ; and I trust 
it will be for the happiness of us all. She is a 
most delightful woman, and will make t\\e ^xs^^x- 

30 Johnny Ludlow. 

shine of any home.' I wish I could think it T 
concluded Anne. 

" No, don't take the basin," I said, as she went 
to do so. " ril finish picking the raspberries. 
What are they for ?" 

** A pudding. Papa said he should like one." 

'* Why could not Sally pick them ? Country 
girls are used to the sun." 

** Sally is busy. Papa bade her clear out 
that room where our boxes were put : we shall 
want all the rooms now. Oh, Johnny, I wish 
we had not left France ! Those happy days 
will never come again." 

Was the doctor going into his dotage ? The 
question crossed my mind. It might never 
have occurred to me ; but one day at Worcester 
Miss Dinah had asked it in my hearing. I felt 
very uncomfortable, could not think of anything 
soothing to say to Anne, and went on picking 
the raspberries. 

" How many do you want ? Are these 
enough T 

" Yes," she answered, looking at the lot. " I 
must fill the basin up with currants." 

We were bending over a currant-bush, Anne 
holding up a branch and I stripping it, when 
footsteps on the path close by made us both 
look up hastily. . There stood Sir Robert Tenby. 
He stared at the distress on Anne's face, which 
was too palpable to be concealed, and asked 
without ceremony what was amiss. 

Anne. 3 1 

It was the last feather that broke the earners 
back. These words from a stranger, and his 
evident concern, put the finishing touch to Anne's 
state. She burst into more bitter tears than 
she had yet shed, and for a minute sobbed 

" Is it any trouble that I can help you out 
of?" asked Sir Robert, in the kindest tones, 
feeling, no doubt, as sorry as he looked. " Oh, 
my dear young lady,* don't give way like this !" 

Touched by his sympathy, her heart seemed 
to open to him : perhaps she had need of finding 
consolation somewhere. Drying her tears, 
Anne told her story simply : commenting on it 
as she had commented to me. 

*' It is for my father's sake that I grieve, sir ; 
that I fear. I feel sure Mrs. Podd will not 
make him reallj^ happy.*' 

"Well, well, we must hope for the best," 
spoke Sir Robert, who looked a little astonished 
at hearing the nature of the grievance, and 
perhaps thought Anne's distress more exagge- 
rated than it need have been. '' Dr. Lewis 
wrote to me last night about some alteration he 
wants to make in the garden ; I am come to 
speak to him of it." 

*' Alteration in the garden !" mechanically 
repeated Anne. *' I have heard nothing about 

He passed into the house to the doctor. We 
picked on at thecurrdints^ and then tookX.\v^m vcvVo j 

32 Johnny Ludlow. 

the kitchen. Anne sat down on a chair to strip 
them from their stalks. Presently we saw Sir 
Robert and the doctor at one end of the garden, 
the latter drawing boundaries round a corner 
with his walking-stick. 

" Oh, I know," exclaimed Anne. *' Yester- 
day Mrs. Podd suggested that a summer-house 
in that spot would be a delightful improvement. 
But I never, never could have supposed papa 
meant to act upon the suggestion." 

Just so. Dr. Lewis wished to erect a 
summer-house of wood and trellis-work, but 
had not liked to do it without first speaking to 
his landlord. 

As the days went on, Anne grew to feel 
somewhat reassured. She was very busy, for 
all kinds of preparations had to be made in the 
house, and the wedding was to take place at 

" I think, perhaps, I took it up in a wronglight, 
Johnny," she said to me one day, when I went in 
and found her sewing at some new curtains. 
'' I hope I did. It must have been the sudden- 
ness of the news, I suppose, and that I was so 
very unprepared for it." 

** How do you mean ? In what wrong 
light ?" 

" Nobody seems to think ill of it, or to fore- 
see cause for apprehension. I am so glad. I 
don't think I ever can much like her : Iput if 
she makes papa happy, it is all I ask.'* 

Anne. 33 

" Who has been talking about it ?'* 

" Herbert Tanerton, for one. He saw Mrs. 
Podd at Worcester last week, and thought her 
charming. The very woman, he said, to do 
papa good ; lively and full of resource. So it 
may all be for the best." 

I should as soon have expected an invitation 
to the moon as to the wedding. But I got it 
Dr. Lewis, left to himself, was feeling helpless 
again, and took me with him to Worcester on 
the eve of the happy day. We put up at the 
Bell Hotel for the night ; but Anne went direct 
to Lake's boarding-house. I ran down there 
in the evening. 

Whether an inkling of the coming wedding 
had got abroad, I can't say ; it was to be kept 
private, and had been, so far as anybody knew : 
but Lake's house was full, not a room to be 
had in it for love or money. Anne was put 
in a sleeping-closet two yards square. 

" It is not our fault," spoke Miss Dinah, 
openly. ** We were keeping a room for Miss 
Lewis ; but on Monday last when a stranger 
came, wanting to be taken in, Mrs. Podd told 
us Miss Lewis was going to the hotel with her 

** My dear love, I thought you were," chimed 
in Mrs. Podd, as she patted Anne on the 
shoulder. " I must have mis-read a passage in 
your dear papa^s letter, and so caught up the 
misapprehension. Never mind : you sVv^W^t^^^ 

VOL. III. ^ 

34 Johnny Ludlow. 

in my room if your own is not large enough. 
And I am sure all young ladies ought to be 
obliged to me, for the new inmate is a delight- 
ful man. My daughters find him charming." 

" The room is quite large enough, thank you," 
replied Anne, meekly. 

'* Do you approve of the wedding, Miss 
Dinah ?'' I asked her later, when we were alone 
in the dining-room. '* Do you like it ?" 

Miss Dinah, who was counting a heap of 
glasses on the sideboard that the maid had just 
washed and brought in, counted to the end, and 
then began upon the spoons. 

" It is the only way we can keep our girls in 
check," observed she ; '* otherwise they'd break 
and lose all before them. I know how many 
glasses have been used at table, consequently 
how many go out to be washed, and the girl has 
to bring that same number in, or explain the 
reason why. As to the spoons, they get thrown 
away with the dishwater and sometimes into the 
fire. If they were silver it would be all the 

" Do you like the match. Miss Dinah ?' 

" Johnny Ludlow," she said, turning round to 
face me, " we make a point in this house of not 
expressing our likes and dislikes. Our position 
is peculiar, you know. When people have come 
to years of discretion, and are of the age that 
Mrs. Podd is, not to speak of Dr. Lewis's, we 
must suppose them to be capable of judging and 

Anne. 35 

acting for themselves. We have not helped on 
the match by so much as an approving word or 
look : on the other hand, it has not lain in our 
duty or in our power to retard it.** 

Which was, of course, good sense. But for all 
her caution, I fancied she could have spoken 
against it, had she chosen. 

A trifling incident occurred to me in going 
back to the Bell. Rushing round the corner 
into Broad Street, a tall, well-dressed man, 
sauntering on before me, suddenly turned on 
his heel, and threw away his cigar sideways. It 
caught the front of my shirt. I flung it off 
again ; but not before it had burnt a small hole 
in the linen. 

" I beg your pardon," said the smoker, in a 
courteous voice — and there was no mistaking 
him for anything but a gentleman. " I am very 
sorry. It was frightfully careless of me." 

" Oh, it is nothing ; don*t think about it/* I 
answered, making oif at full speed. 

St. Michael's Church stood in a nook under 
the cathedral walls : it is taken down now. It 
was there that the wedding took place. Dr. 
Lewis arrived at it more like a baby than a 
bridegroom, helpless and nervous to a painful 
degree. But Mrs. Podd made up for his defi- 
ciencies in her grand self-possession ; her white 
bonnet and nodding feather seemed to fill the 
church. *Anne wore grey silk ; Julia and Fanny 
Podd some shining ipiink stuff that the\r ^^\X\- 


36 Johnny Ludlow. 

coats could be seen through. Poor Anne's tears 
were dropping during the service ; she kept her 
head bent down to hide thern^ 

** Look up, Anne," I said from my place close 
to her. " Take courage." 

" I can't help it, indeed, Johnny," she whis- 
pered. " I wish I could. Fm sure I'd not throw 
a damp on the general joy for the world." 

The wedding-party was a very small one 
indeed ; just ourselves and a stern-looking gentle- 
man, who was said to be a lawyer-cousin of the 
Podds, and to come from Birmingham. All the 
people staying at Lake's had flocked into the 
church to look on. 

'* Pray take my arm. Allow me to lead you 
out. I see how deeply you are feeling this." 

The ceremony seemed to be over almost as 
soon as it was begun — perhaps the parson, re- 
membering the parties had both been married 
before, cut it short And it was in the slight 
bustle consequent upon its termination that the 
above words, in a low, tender, and most con- 
siderate tone, broke upon my ear. Where had 
I heard the voice before ? 

Turning hastily round, I recognised the 
stranger of the night before. It was to Anne he 
had spoken, and he had already taken her upon 
his arm. Her head was bent still ; the rebellious 
tears would hardly be kept back ; and a sweet 
compassion sat on every line of his handsome 
features as he gazed down at her. 

Afme. 2>7 

*' Who is he ?" I asked of Fanny Podd, as he 
walked forward with Anne. 

" Mr. Angerstyne — the most fascinating man 
I ever saw in my life. The Lakes could not 
have taken him in, but for mamma's inventing 
that little fable of Anne's going with old Lewis 
to the Bell. Trust mamma for not letting us 
two girls lose a chance," added free-speaking 
Fanny. ** I may take your arm, I suppose, 
Johnny Ludlow." 

And after a plain breakfast in private, which 
included only the wedding-party. Dr. and Mrs. 
Lewis departed for Cheltenham. 


" Johnny, what can I do ? What do ^^ow thmk 
I can do ?" 

In the pretty grey silk that she had worn at 
her father s wedding, and with a whole world of 
perplexity in her soft brown eyes, Anne Lewis 
stood by me, and whispered the question. As 
soon as the bride and bridegroom had driven 
off, Anne was to depart for May thorn Bank, 
with Julia and Fanny Podd ; all three of them 
to remain there for the few days that Dr. and 
Mrs. Lewis purposed to be away. But now, 
no sooner had the sound of the bridal wheels 
died on our ears, and Anne had suggested that 
they should get ready for the\r jourive^ \voxxv^, 

38 Johnny Ludlow. 

than they two young ladies burst into a laugh, 
and said, Did she think they were going off to 
that dead-and-alive place ! Not if they knew 
it. And, giving her an emphatic nod to prove 
they meant what they said, they waltzed to the 
other end of the room in their shining pink 
dresses to talk to Mr. Angerstyne. 

Consternation sat in every line of Anne's 
face. " I cannot go there by myself, or stay 
there by myself," she said to me. '* These 
things are not done in France." 

No : though May thorn Bank was her own 
home, and though she was as thoroughly 
English as a girl can be, it could not be done. 
French customs and ideas did not permit it, and 
she had been brought up in them. It was 
certainly not nice behaviour of the girls. They 
should have objected before their mother 

"/ don*t know what you can do, Anne. 
Better ask Miss Dinah." 

** Not go with you, after the arrangements 
are made — and your servant Sally is expecting 
you all!" cried Miss Dinah Lake. "Oh, you 
must be mistaken," she added ; and went up to 
talk to them. Julia only laughed. 

*' Go to be buried alive at Maythorn Bank 
as long as mamma chooses to stay away !" she 
cried. " You'll not get either of us to do any- 
thing of the kind, Miss Dinah." 

^' Mrs. Podd — I mean Mrs. Lewis — will be 

Anne. 39 

back to join you there in less than a week,'* 
said Miss Dinah. 

" Oh, will she, though ! You don't know 
mamma. She may be off to Paris and fifty 
other places before she turns her head home- 
wards again. Anne Lewis can go home by 
herself, if she wants to go : I and Fanny mean 
to stay with you, Miss Dinah." 

So Anne had to stay also. She sat down 
and wrote two letters : one to Sally, saying their 
coming home was delayed ; the other to Dr. 
Lewis, asking what she was to do. 

"And the gain is mine," observed Mr. 
Angerstyne. '* What would the house have 
been without you ?" 

He appeared to speak to the girls generally. 
But his eyes and his smile evidently were 
directed to Anne. She saw it too, and blushed. 
Blushed ! when she had not yet known him 
four-and-twenty hours. But he was just the 
fellow for a girl to fall in love with — and no 
disparagement to her to say so. 

'*Who is he?" I that evening asked Miss 

'* A Mr. Angerstyne," she answered. *' I 
don't know much of him, except that he is an 
independent gentleman with' a beautiful estate 
in Essex, and a fashionable man. I see what 
you are thinking, Johnny : that it is curious a 
man of wealth and fashion should be staying at 
Lake's boarding-house. But Mr. A.t\g|^tsX^\\a. 

40 Johmiy Ludlow. 

came over from Malvern to see Captain Bristow, 
the old invalid, who keeps his room upstairs, and 
when here the Captain persuaded him to stay 
for a day or two, if we could give him a room. 
That's how it was. Captain Bristow leaves us 
soon, and I suppose Mr. Angerstyne will be 
leaving too." 

I had expected to go home the following day ; 
but that night up came two of the young Sankers, 
Dan and King, and said I was to go and stay 
a bit with them. Leave to do so was easily had 
from home ; for just as our school at old Frost's 
was re-assembling, two boys who had stayed 
the holidays were taken with bad throats, and 
we were not to go back till goodness knew 
when. Tod, who was on a visit in Gloucester- 
shire, thought it would be Michaelmas. 

Back came letters from Cheltenham. Mrs. 
Lewis told her girls they might remain at 
Worcester if they liked. And Dr. Lewis wrote 
to Anne, saying she must not go home alone, 
and he enclosed a note to Mrs. Lake, asking 
her to be so kind as to take care of his daughter. 

After that we had a jolly time. The Sankers 
and Lakes amalgamated well, and were always 
at one another's houses. This does not apply 
to Mrs. Lake and Miss Dinah : as Miss Dinah 
put it, they had no time for gadding down to 
Sankers'. But Mr. Angerstyne (who had not 
left) grew quite familiar there ; the Sankers, 
who never stood on the slightest ceremony, 

Anne. 41 

making no stranger of him. Captain Sanker 
discovered that two or three former naval 
chums of his were known to Mr. Angerstyne ; 
one dead old gentleman in particular, who had 
been his bosom friend. This was quite enough. 
Mr. Angerstyne had, so to say, the key of the 
house given him, and went in and out of it at will. 
Everybody liked Mr. Angerstyne. And for 
all the pleasurable excursions that now fell to our 
lot, we were indebted to him. Without being 
ostentatious, he opened his purse freely; and 
there was a delicacy in his manner of doing it 
that prevented its being felt. On the plea of 
wanting, himself, to see some noted spot or 
place in the neighbourhood, he would order a 
large post-carriage from the Star or the Crown, 
and invite as many as it would hold to accom- 
pany him, and bring baskets of choice fruit, or 
dainties from the pastry-cook's to regale us on. 
Or he would tell the Sankers that King looked 
delicate : poor lame King, who was to die ere 
another year had flown. Down would come 
the carriage, ostensibly to take King for a 
drive ; and a lot of us reaped the benefit. Mrs. 
Sanker was always of the party : without a 
chaperon, the young ladies could not have 
gone. Generally speaking the Miss Podds 
would come — they took care of that : and Anne 
Lewis always came — ^which I think Mr. Anger- 
styne took care of. The golden page of life 
was opening ior Ann^ Lewis : she seemed \.o\:>e 

42 Johiny Ludlow. 

entering on an Elysian pathway, every step of 
which was strewn with flowers. 

One day we went to Holt Fleet. The car- 
riage came down to the Sankers* in the morning, 
Mr. Angerstyne in it, and the Captain stepped 
out of doors, his face beaming, to see the start. 
Once in a way he would be of the party himself, 
but not often. Mr. Angerstyne handed Mrs. 
Sanker in, and then called out for me. I held 
back, feeling uncomfortable at being always 
taken, and knowing that Fred and Dan thought 
me selfish for it. But it was of no use : Mf. 
Angerstyne had a way of carrying out his own 

" Get up on the box, Johnny," he said to me. 
And, close upon my heels, wanting to share the 
box with me, came Dan Sanker. Mr. Anger- 
styne pulled him back. 

*' Not you, Dan. I shall take King." 

'* 'King has been ever so many times — little 
wretch !" grumbled Dan. ** It's my turn. It's 
not fair, Mr. Angerstyne." 

*' You, Dan, and Fred, and Toby, all the lot 
of you, shall have a carriage to yourselves for a 
whole day if you like, but King goes with me," 
said Mr. Angerstyne, helping the lad up. 

He got in himself, took his seat by Mrs. 
Sanker, and the post-boy touched up his horses. 
Mrs. Sanker, mildly delighted, for she liked these 
drives, sat in her ordinary costume : a fancy 
shawl of some thick kind of silk crape, all the 

Anne. 43 

colours of the rainbow blended into its pattern, 
and a black velvet bonnet with a turned-up brim 
and a rose in it, beneath which her light hair 
hung down in loose curls. 

We stopped at Lake's boarding-house to take 
up the three girls ; who got in, and sat on the 
seat opposite Mrs. SankerandMr. Angerstyne; 
and then the post-boy started for Holt Fleet. 
"The place is nothing," observed Captain 
Sanker, whohad suggested it as an easy, pleasant 
driveto Mr. Angerstyne; *'but the inn is comfort- 
able, and the garden's nice to sit or stroll in.'* 

We reached Holt Fleet at one o'clock. The 
first thing Mr. Angerstyne did was to order 
luncheon, anything they could conveniently give 
us, and to serve it in the garden. It proved to be 
ham and eggs ; first-rate ; we were all hungry, 
and he bade them keep on frying till further 
orders. At which the girl who waited on us 
laughed, as she drew the corks of some bottled 

I saw a bit of by-play later. Strolling about 
to digest the ham and eggs, some in one part of 
the grounds, which in places had a wild and 
picturesque aspect, some in another, Mr. Anger- 
styne suddenly laid hold of Anne, as if to save 
her from falling. She was standing in that high 
narrow pathway that is perched up aloft and 
looks so dangerous, steadying herself by a tree, 
and bending cautiously forwards to look down. 
The path may be gonQ now. The iea\.Mt^'s» ol 

44 Johnny Ludlow. 

the whole place may be altered ; perhaps even * 
done away with altogether ; for I am writing of 
years and years ago. He stole up and caught 
her by the waist. 

'' Oh, Mr. Angerstyne!" she exclaimed, blush- 
ing and starting. 

** Were you going to take a leap ?" 

'' No, no," she smiled. '* Would it kill me if 
I did ?" 

" Suppose I let you go — and send you over to 
try It r 

Ah, he would not do that. He was holding 
her all too safely. Anne made an effort to free 
herself; but her eyelids drooped over her tell- 
tale eyes, her all-conscious face betrayed what 
his presence was to her. 

" How beautiful the river is from this, as we 
look up it !'* she exclaimed. 

" More than beautiful." 

Julia Podd rushed up to mar the harmony. 
Never does a fleeting moment of this kind set 
in but somebody does mar it. Julia flirted des- 
perately with Mr. Angerstyne. 

** Mr. Angerstyne, I have been looking for 
370U everywhere. Mrs. Sanker wants to know 
if you will take us for a row on the water. The 
inn has a nice boat." 

" Mrs. Sanker does !" he exclaimed. " With 
pleasure. Are you fond of the water. Miss 
Lewis ?'* 

AnuQ made no particular reply. She stood 

Anne. 45 

at a little distance now, apparently looking at the 
view ; but I thought she wanted to hide her hot 
cheeks. Mr. Angerstyne caught her hand in 
his, playfully put his other hand within Miss 
Julia's arm, and so piloted them down. Ah, he 
might flirt back again with Julia Podd, and did ; 
with Fanny also ; but it was not to them his 
thoughts were given. 

** Go on the water!" said Mrs. Sanker, who 
was sitting under the shade of the trees, repeat- 
ing one of her favourite ballads to King in a see- 
saw tone. "/.^ Julia Podd must have mis- 
und^stood me. To go on the water might be 
nice for those who would like it, I said. I don't." 

" Will you go ?" asked Mr. Angerstyne, turn- 
ing to Anne. 

Anne shook her head, confessing herself too 
much of a coward. She had never been on any 
water in her life until when crossing over from 
France, and never wished to be. And Mr. 
Angerstyne ungallantly let the boat alone, 
though Julia and Fanny told him they adored 
the water. 

We sat down in the shade by Mrs. Sanker ; 
some on the bench by her side, some on the 
grass at her feet, and she recited for us the time- 
worn ballad she had begun for King : just as 
the following year she would recite things to 
us, as already told of, sitting on the floor beam 
of the turret-room. It was called ** Lord 
Thomas." Should you like to hear \t. 

46 Johmty Ludlow. 

Lord Thomas, he was a bold forester, 
And a keeper of the king's deer ; 

Fair Ellenor, she was a fair young lady, 
Lord Thomas he loved her dear. 

" Come, read me a riddle, dear mother," said he, 

" And riddle us both as one : 
Whether fair Ellen shall be mine — 

Or to bring the brown girl home ?" 

" The brown girl she hath both houses and lands, 

Fair Ellenor, she has none : 
Therefore I'd advise thee, on my blessing, 

To bring the brown girl home." 

Then he decked himself and he dressed himself. 
And his merry men, all in green : 

And as he rode through the town with them 
Folks took him to be some king. 

When he came to fair EUenor's bower 

So boldly he did ring ; 
There was none so ready as fair Ellen herself 

To loose Lord Thomas in. 

" What news, what news, Lord Thomas, 
What news have you brought unto me ?" 

" I'm come to invite you to my wedding ; 
And that is bad news for thee." 

" Oh, now forbid," fair Ellenor said, 
" That any such thing should be done : 

For I thought to have been the bride myself, 
And that you would have been the bridegroom. 

** Come, read me a riddle, dear mother," said she, 

** And riddle us both as one : 
AVhether I shall go to Lord Thomas's wedding, 

Or whether I shall tarry at home ?" 

" There's one may be thy friend, I know ; 
But twenty will be thy foe : ^ 

Anne. 47 

Therefore I charge thee, on my blessing, 
To Lord Thomas's wedding don't go." 

** There's one will be my friend, I know, 

Though twenty should be my foe : 
Betide me life, or betide me death. 

To Lord Thomas's wedding I go." 

Then she went up into her chamber 

And dressed herself all in green : 
And when she came downstairs again, 

They thought it must be" some queen. 

When she came to Lord Thomas's castle 

So nobly she did ring : 
There w^as none so ready as Lord Thomas himself 

To loose this lady in. 

Then he took her by her lily-white hand 

And led her across the hall ; 
And he placed her on the dais, 

Above the ladies all. 

" Is this your bride. Lord Thomas ? 

I think she looks wondrous brown : 
You might have had as fair a young maiden 

As ever trod English ground." 

** Despise her not," said Lord Thomas ; 

'* Despise her not unto me ; 
I love thy little finger, Ellen, 

Better than her whole body." 

The brown girl, having a knife in her hand. 

Which was both keen and sharp. 
Between the long ribs and the short, 

She pierced fair Ellenor's heart. 

" Oh, what's the matter ?" Lord Thomas said, 

" I think you look pale and wan : 
You used to have as fine a colour 

As ever the sun shone on." 

48 Johnny Ludlow. 

" What, are you blind, now, Thomas ? 

Or can't you very well see ? 
Oh, can't you see, and oh, can't you see my own heart's 

Run trickling down to my knee ?" 

Then Lord Thomas, he took the brown girl by the hand, 

And led her across the hall ; 
And he took his own bride's head off her shoulders, 

And dashed it against the wall. 

Then Lord Thomas, he put the sword to the ground. 

The point against his heart : 
So there was an end of those three lovers, 

So sadly they did pait 1 

Upon fair Ellenor's grave grew a rose, 
And upon Lord Thomas's a briar : 
And there they twixed and there they twined, till they 
came to the steeple -top ; 
That all the world might plainly see, true love is never 

" Oh, how delightful these old ballads are !" 
cried Anne, as Mrs. Sanker finished. 

'' Delightful !" retorted Julia Podd. " Why, 
they are full of queer phrases and outrageous 
metre and grammar !" 

**My dears, it is, I suppose, how people 
wrote and spoke in those old days," said Mrs. 
Sanker, who had given great force to every 
turn of the song, and seemed to feel its disasters 
as much as though she had been fair Ellen 

"Just so," put in Mr. Angerstyne. "The 
world was not full of erudition then, as it is 

Anne. 49 

now, and we accept the language — ay, and like 
it, too — as that of a past day. To me, these old 
ballads are wonderful : every one has a life's 
romance in it." 

And that day at Holt Fleet, the only time I, 
Johnny Ludlow,* ever saw the place, lives in my 
memory as a romance now. 

As the days went on, there could be no mis- 
take made by the one or two of us who kept 
our eyes open. I mean, as to Mr. Angerstyne/s 
liking for Anne Lewis, and the reciprocal feel- 
ings he had awakened. With her, it had been 
a case of love at first sight ; or nearly so. And 
that, if you may believe the learned in the 
matter, is the only love deserving the name. 
Perhaps it had been so with him : I don't know. 

Three parts of their time they talked together 
in French, for Mr. Angerstyne spoke it well. 
And that vexed Julia and Fanny Podd ; who 
called themselves good French scholars, but who 
somehow failed to understand. " They talk so 
fast ; they do it on purpose," grumbled Fanny. 
At German Mr. Angerstyne was not apt. He 
spoke it a very little, and Anne would laugh- 
ingly correct his mistakes, and repeat the 
German words slowly over, that he might catch 
the accent, causing us no end of fun. That was 
Anne's time of day, as Fanny Podd expressed it; 
but when it came to the musical evenings, Kt\w^ 


50 Johnny Ludlow. 

was nowhere. The other two shone like the * 
stars then, and did their best to monopolise M r. 

That a fine gentleman, rich, and a man of the 
great world, should stay dawdling on at a board - 
ing-house, puzzled Miss Dinah, who knew what 
was what. Of course it was no business of hers ; 
she and Mrs. Lake were only too glad to have 
one who paid so liberally. He would run up- 
stairs to sit with Captain Bristow ; and twice a 
week he went to Malvern, sometimes not getting 
back in time for dinner. 

The college school had begun again, and I was 
back at Lake's. For Tom and Alfred Lake, who 
had been away, were at home now ; and nothing 
would do but I must come to their house before 
I went home — to which I was daily expecting a 
summons. As to the bride and bridegroom, 
we thought they meant to remain away for 
good ; weeks had elapsed since their departure. 
Nobody regretted that : Julia and Fanny Podd 
considered May thorn Bank the fag-end of the 
world, and hoped they might never be called to 
it. And Anne, living in the Elysian Fields, 
did not care to leave them for the dreary land 
outside their borders. 

One evening we were invited to a tea-dinner 
at Captain Sanker's. The Miss Podds per- 
sisted in calling it a soiree. It turned out to be 
a scrambling kind of entertainment, and must 
have amused Mr. Angerstyne. Biddy had 

Anne. 5 1 

poured the bowl of sweet custard over the meat 
patties by mistake, and put salt on the open 
tartlets instead of sugar. It seemed nothing 
but fun to us all. The evening, with its mis- 
takes, and its laughter, and its genuine hospi- 
tality, came to an end, and we started to go 
home under the convoy of Mr. Angerstyne, all 
the Sanker boys, except Toby, attending us, 
It was a lovely moonlight night ; Mrs. Lake, 
who had come in at the tail of the soiree to 
escort the girls home, remarked that the moon 
was never brighter. 

*' Why, just look there !" she exclaimed, as 
we turned up Edgar Street, intending to take 
that and the steps homewards ; '* the Tower 
gates are open !" For it was the custom to 
close the great gates of Edgar Tower at dusk. 

" Oh, I know,'* cried Fred Sanker. '' The 
sub-dean gives a dinner to-night ; and the 
porter has left the gates wide for the 
carriages. Who is good for a race .round the 
Green ?" 

It seemed that we all were, for the whole lot 
of us followed him in, leaving Mrs. Lake calling 
after us in consternation. The old Tower 
porter, thinking the Green was being charged 
by an army of ill-doers, rushed out of his den, 
shouting to us to come back. 

Much we heeded him! Counting the car- 
riages (three of them) waiting at the sub-dean's 
door, we raced onwards at will, sottv^ \\\0c^«> I 

52 Johnny Ltidlow. 

some yonder. King went back to Mrs. Lake. 
The evening's coolness felt delicious after the hot 
and garish day ; the moonh'ght brought out the 
lights and shades of the queer old houses and 
the older cathedral. Collecting ourselves to- 
gether presently, at Fred Sanker^s whoop, Mr. 
Angerstyne and Anne were missing. 

" They've gone to look at the Severn, I 
think,'* said Dan Sanker. '* I heard him tell 
her it was worth looking at in the moon- 

Yes, they were there. He had Anne's arm 
tucked up under his, and his head bent over 
her that she might catch his whispers. They 
turned round at hearing our footsteps. 

** Indeed we must go home, Mr. Angerstyne," 
said Julia Podd, who had run down after me, 
and spoke crossly. '* The college clock is chim- 
ing the quarter to eleven. There's Mrs. Lake 
waiting for us under the Tower !" 

'* Is it so late ?" he answered her, in a plea- 
sant voice. " Time flies quickly in the moon- 
light : I've often remarked it." 

Walking forward, he kept by the side of 
Julia; Anne and I followed together. Some of 
the boys were shouting themselves hoarse from 
the top of the ascent, wanting to know if we 
were lost. 

" Is it all settled, Anne ?" I asked her, jest- 
ingly, dropping my voice. 

" Is what settled T' she returned. But she 

Anne. 53 

understood ; for her face looked like a rose in 
the moonlight. 

** You know. / can see, if the others can't. 
And if it makes you happy, Anne, I am very glad 
of it." 

" Oh Johnny, I hope — I hope no one else does 
see. But indeed you are making more of it than 
it deserves." 

" What does he say to you T' 

*' He has not said anything. So you see, 
Johnny, you may be quite mistaken." 

It was all the same : if he had not said any- 
thing yet, there could be no question that he 
meant soon ta say it. We were passing the old 
elm trees just then ; the moonlight, flickering 
through them on Anne's face, lighted up the sweet 
hope that lay on it. 

** Sometimes I think if— if papa should not 
approve of it !" she whispered. 

*' But he is sure to approve of it. One cannot 
help liking Mr. Angerstyne : and his position is 

The sub-dean's dinner guests were gone, the 
three carriages bowling them away; and the 
porter kept up a fire of abuse as he waited to 
watch us through the little postern-door. The 
boys, being college boys, returned his attack 
with interest. Wishing the Sankers good-night, 
who ran straight down Edgar Street on their 
way home, we turned off up the steps, and foutvd 
Mrs. Lake standing patiently at 1aer doot. \ 

54 Johnny Ludlow. 

saw Mr. Angerstyne catch Anne's hand for a 
moment in his, under cover of our entrance. 

The morning brought news. Dr. and Mrs. 
Lewis were on their way to Maythorn Bank, 
expected to reach it that evening, and the young 
ladies were bidden to depart for it on the follow- 
ing day. 

A wonderful change had taken place in Dr. 
Lewis. If they had doubted before whether the 
Doctor was not going into his dotage they could 
not doubt longer, for he was decidedly in it. A 
soft-speaking, mooning man, now ; utterly lost in 
the shadow cast by his wife's importance. She 
appeared to be smiling in face and gentle in 
accent as ever, but she over-ruled every soul in 
the house : nobody but herself had a will in it. 
What little strength of mind he might have had, 
his new bride had taken out of him. 

Anne did not like it. Hitherto mistress of all 
things under her father, she found herself passed 
over as a nonentity. She might not express an 
opinion, or hazard a wish. "My dear, / am 
here now," Mrs. Lewis said to her once or twice 
emphatically. Anne was deposed ; her reiga 
was over. 

One little thing, that happened, she certainly 

did not like. Though humble-minded, entirely 

un-self-asserting, sweet tempered and modest as 

a girl should be, she did not like this. Mrs. 

Anne. 55 

Lewis sent out invitations for dinner to some 
people in the neighbourhood, strangers to her 
until then ; the table was too full by one, and 
she had told Anne that she could not sit down. 
It was too bad ; especially as Julia and Fanny 
Podd filled two of the more important places, 
\vith bunches of fresh sweet-peas in their hair. 

" Besides," Mrs. Lewis had said to Anne in 
the morning, '' we must have a French side-dish 
or two, and there's nobody but you understands 
the making of them." 

Whether the having to play the host was too 
much for him, or that he did not like the slight 
put upon his daughter, before the dinner was 
half over, the Doctor fell asleep. He could not 
be roused from it. Herbert Tanerton, who had 
sat by Mrs. Lewis's side to say grace, thought 
it was not sleep but unconsciousness. Between 
them, the company carried him into the other 
room; and Anne, hastening to send in her 
French dishes, ran there to attend upon him. 

'* I hope and trust there's nothing amiss with 
his heart," said old Coney doubtfully, in the 
bride's ear. 

*' My dear Mr. Coney, his heart is as strong 
as mine — believe me," affirmed Mrs. Lewis, 
flicking some crumbs off the front of her wed- 
ding dress. 

• ** I hope it is, I'm sure," repeated Coney. 
'* I don't like that blue tinge round his lips." 

They went back to the dinner-table wYvetv Yit^ 



56 Johnny Ludlow. 

Lewis revived. Anne remained kneeling at his 
feet, gently chafing his hands. 

*' What's the matter ?" he cried, staring at her 
like a man bewildered. " What are you doing ? 

" Dear papa, you fell asleep over your dinner, 
and they could not wake you. Do you feel ill.'^ 

''Where am I ?" he asked, as if he were 
speaking out of a dream. And she told him 
what she could. But she had not heard those 
suspicious words of old Coney's. 

It was some minutes yet before he got much 
sense into him, or seemed fully to understand. 
He fell back in the chair then, with a deep sigh, 
keeping Anne's hand in his. 

" Shall I get you anything, papa ?" she asked. 
" You had eaten scarcely any dinner, they say . 
Would you like a little drop of brandy-and- 
water .^" 

** Why was not your dress ready T' 

*' My dress I" exclaimed Anne. 

*' She said so to me, when I asked why you 
did not come to table. Not made, or washed, 
or ironed ; or something.^' 

Anne felt rather at sea. *' There's nothing 
the matter with my dresses, papa," she said. 
" But never mind them — or me. Will you go 
back to dinner ? Or shall I get you anything 
here ?" 

" I don't want to go back ; I don't want any- 
thing," he answered. *' Go and finish yours, 
my dear." 

Anne. 57 

** I have had mine/' she said with a faint 
blush. For indeed her dinner had consisted 
of some bread-and-butter in the kitchen, eaten 
over the French stew-pans. Dr. Lewis was 
gazing out at the trees, and seemed to be in 

" Perhaps you stayed away from home rather 
too long, papa," she suggested. *' You are not 
accustomed to travelling ; and I think you are 
not strong enough for it. You looked very 
worn when you first came home ; worn and 

"Ay," he answered. "I told her it did not 
do for me ; but she laughed. It was nothing 
but a whirl, you know. And I only want to be 

'* It is very quiet here, dear papa, and you 
will soon feel stronorer. You shall sit out of 
doors in the sun of a day, and I will read to you. 
I wish you would let me get you ^" 

'* Hush, child. Tm thinking." 

With his eyes still fixed on the out-of-door 
landscape, he sat stroking Anne s hand ab- 
stractedly. Nothing broke the silence, save 
the faint clatter of knives and forks from the 

** Mind, Anne, she made me do it," he 
suddenly exclaimed. 

** Made you do what, papa ?*' 

"And so, my dear, if I am not allowed to 
remedy it, and you feel disappointed, ^o\i tom^x. 

58 Johnny Ludlow. 

think as lightly of it as you are able : and don't 
blame me more than you can help. Til alter it 
again if I can, be sure of that; but I don't 
have a moment to myself, and at times it seems 
that she's just my keeper." 

Anne answered soothingly that all Jie did 
must be right, but had no time to say more, for 
Mr. Coney, stealing in on tip-toe from the 
dining-room, came to see after the patient. 
Anne had not the remotest idea what it was 
that the Doctor alluded to ; but she had caught 
up one idea with dread of heart — that the 
marriage had not increased his happiness. 
Perhaps had marred it. 

Maythorn Bank did not suit Mrs. Lewis. 
Ere she had been two weeks at it, she found* it 
insufferably dull ; not to be endured at any price. 
There was no fashion thereabouts, and not 
much visiting; the neighbours were mostly 
simple, unpretending people, quite different 
from the style of company met with in garrison 
towns and pump-rooms. Moreover the few 
people who might have visited Mrs. Lewis, 
did not seem to take to her, or to remember 
that she was there. This did not imply dis- 
courtesy : Dr. Lewis and his daughter had just 
come into the place, strangers, so to say, and 
people could not practically recollect all at once 
that Maythorn Bank was inhabited. Where 
was the use of dressing up in peacock's plumes 
// nobody came to see her } The magnificent 

Anne. 59 

wardrobe, laid in during her recent honey-moon, 
seemed as good as wasted. 

** I can't stand this I'' ertiphatically cried Mrs. 
Lewis one day to her daughters. And Anne, 
chancing to enter the room unexpectedly at 
the moment, heard her say it, and wondered 
what it meant. 

That same afternoon, Dr. Lewis had another 
attack. Anne found him sitting beside the pear- 
tree insensible, his head hanging over the arm 
of the bench. Travelling had not brought this 
second attack on, that was certain ; for no man 
could be leading a more quiet, moping life than 
he was. Save that he listened now and then to 
some book, read by Anne, he had no amusement 
whatever, no excitement ; he might have sat all 
day long with his mouth closed, for all there was 
to open it for. Mrs. Lewis's powers of fascina- 
tion, that she had exercised so persistently upon 
him as Mrs.'Podd, seemed to have deserted her 
for good. She passed her hours gaping, sleep- 
ing, complaining, hardly replying to a question 
of his, if he by chance asked her one. Even the 
soft sweet voice that had charmed the world 
mostly degenerated now into a croak or a scream. 
Those very mild, not-say-bo-to-a-goose voices 
are sometimes only kept for public life. 

" I shall take you off to Worcester," cried 
Mrs. Lewis to him, when he came out of his in- 
sensibility. " We will start as soon as breakfast's 
over in the morning'' 


60 Johnny Ludlow. 

Dr. Lewis began to tremble. " I don't want to 
go to Worcester/' said he. ** I want to stay here/' 

" But staying here is not good for you, my 
dear. You'll be better at Mrs. Lake's. It is 
the remains of this paint that is making you ill. 
I can smell it still quite strongly, and I decidedly 
object to stay in it." 

*' My dear, you can go ; I shall not wish to 
prevent you. But, as to the paint, I don't smell 
it at all now. You can all go. Anne will take 
care of me." 

** My dear Dr. Lewis, do you think I would 
leave you behind me ? \t is the paint. And 
you shall see a doctor at Worcester." 

He said he was a doctor himself, and did not 
need another ; he once more begged to be left 
at home in peace. All in vain : Mrs. Lewis 
announced her decision to the household ; and 
Sally, whose wits had been well-nigh scared 
away by the doings and the bustle * of the new- 
inmates, was gladdened by the news that they 
were about to take their departure. 

" Pourtant si le ciel nous protege. 
Peut-etre encore le reverrai-je." 

These words, the refrain of an old French 
song, were being sung by Anne Lewis softly in 
the gladness of her heart, as she bent over the 
trunk she was packing. To be going back ta 
Worcester, where he was, seemed to her like 
going to paradise. 

Anne. 6i 

*' What are you doing that for ?" 

The emphatic question, spoken in evident sur- 
prise, came from her stepmother. The chamber- 
door was open ; Mrs. Lewis had chanced to 
look in as she passed. 

" What are you doing that for ?" she stopped 
to ask. Anne ceased her song at once and 
rose from her knees. She really did not know 
what it was that had elicited the sharp query — 
unless it was the singing. 

•' You need not pack your own things. You 
are not going to Worcester. It is intended that 
you shall remain here and take care of the 
house and of Sally." 

" Oh, but, Mrs. Lewis, I could not stay here 
alone," cried Anne, a hundred thoughts 
rushing tumultuously into her mind. ** It could 
not be." 

" Not stay here alone 1 Why, what is to 
hinder it ? Do you suppose you would get run 
away with ? Now, my dear, we will have no 
trouble, if you please. You will stay at home 
like a good girl — therefore you may unpack 
your box." 

Anne went straight to her father, and found 
him with Herbert Tanerton. He had walked 
over from Timberdale to inquire after the 
Doctor s health. 

" Could this be, papa ?" she said. ^' That I 
am to be left alone here while you stay at Wor- 
cester ?" 


6? Johnny Ludlow. 

** Don't talk nonsense, child," was the peevish 
answer. '^ My belief is that you dream dreams, 
Anne, and then fancy them realities.'* 

*^ But Mrs. Lewis tells me that I am not to 
go to Worcester — that I am to stay at home/' 
persisted Anne. And she said it before Mrs. 
Lewis : who had come into the room then, and 
was shaking hands with the parson. 

" I think, love, it will be so much better for 
dear Anne to remain here and see to things," 
she said, in that sweet company-voice of hers. 

** No," dissented the Doctor, plucking up the 
courage to be firm. ** If Anne stays here, I shall 
stay. Tm sure I'd be thankful if you'd let us 
stay : we should get a bit of peace and quiet." 

She did not make a fuss before the parson. 
Perhaps she saw that to hold out might cause 
some unprofitable commotion. Treating Anne 
to a beaming smile, she remarked that her dear 
papa's wish was of course law, and bade her run 
and finish her packing. 

And when they arrived the next day at 
Lake's, and Anne heard that Henry Anger- 
styne was in truth still there and knew that she 
should soon be in his presence, it did indeed 
seem to her that she had stepped into paradise. 
She was alone when he entered. The others had 
sought their respective chambers, leaving Anne 
to gather up their packages and follow, and 
she had her bonnet untied and her arms full of 
things when he came into the room. Paradise ! 

Anne. 63 

she might have experienced some bliss In her 
life, but none like unto this. Her veins were 
tingling, her heart-blood leaping. How well 
he looked ! how noble! how superior to other 
men ! As he caught her hand in his, and bent to 
whisper his low words of greeting, she could 
scarcely contain within bounds the ecstasy of her 

^' I am so glad you are back again, Anne I I 
could not believe the good news when the letter 
came to Mrs. Lake this morning. You have 
been away two weeks, and they have seemed 
like months." 

** You did not come over : you said you 
should," faltered Anne. 

*' Ay. And I sprained my foot the day you 
left, and have had to nurse it. It is not strong 
yet. Bad luck, was it not ? Bristow has been 
worse, too. — Where are you going ?" 

" I must take these things up to papa and 
■Mrs. Lewis. Please let me go." 

But. before he would release her hand, he sud- 
denly bent his head and kissed her : once, twice. 

" Pardon me, Anne, I could not help it ; it is 
only a French greeting," he whispered, as she 
escaped with her face rosy-red, and her heart 
beating time to its own sweet music. 

" What a stay Mr. Angerstyne is making !" 
exclaimed Fanny Podd, who had run about to 
seek Miss Dinah, and found her making a new 
surplice for Tom. . 

64 Johnny Ludlow. 

*' Well, we are glad to have him stay," an- 
swered Miss Dinah, **and he has had a sprained 
ankle. We know now what is detaining him 
in Worcestershire. It seems that some old 
lady is lying ill at Malvern, and he can't get 

*' Some old lady lying ill at Malvern !" re- 
torted Fanny, who liked to take Miss Dinah 
down when she could. ^' Why should that 
detain Mr. Angerstyne ? Who is the old lady!" 

** She is a relation of his : his great-aunt, I 
think. And I believe she is very fond of him, 
and won't let him go to any distance. All these 
visits he makes to Malvern are to see her. She 
is very rich, and he will come in for her money." 

'* I'm sure he's rich enough without it ; he 
does not want more money," grumbled Fanny. 
"If the old lady would leave a little to those 
who need it, she might do some good." 

** She'd have to be made of gold and dia- 
monds if she left some to all who need it,'' 
sighed Miss Dinah. ** Mr. Angerstyne deserves 
to be rich, he is so liberal with his money. 
Many a costly dainty he causes us to send up 
to that poor sick Captain Bristow, letting him 
think it is all in the regular boarding fare." 

*' But I think it was fearfully sly of him never 
to tell us why he went so much to Malvern — 
only you must always put in a good word for 
everybody, Miss Dinah. I asked him one day 
what his attraction was, that he should be per- 

Anne. 65 

petually running over there, and he gravely 
answered me that he liked the Malvern air." 

Just for a few days, Dr. Lewis seemed to get 
a little better. Mrs. Lewis's fascinations had 
returned to her, and she in a degree kept him 
alive. It might have been from goodness of 
heart, or it might have been that she did not 
like to neglect him before people just yet, but 
she was ever devising plans for his amusement 
— ^which of course included that of herself and 
of her daughters. Mr. Angerstyne had not 
been more lavish of money in coach hire than 
was Mrs. Lewis now. Carriages for the country 
and flies for the town — that was the order of 
the day. Anne was rarely invited to make one 
of the party : for her there seemed never room. 
What of that ? — when by staying at home she 
had the society of Mr. Angerstyne. 

While they were driving everywhere, or 
taking their pleasure in the town, shopping and 
exhibiting their finery, of which they seemed to 
display a new stock perpetually, Anne was left 
at liberty to enjoy her dangerous happiness. 
Dangerous, if it should not come to anything : 
and he had not spoken yet. They would sit 
together over their German, Anne trying to beat 
it into him, and laughing with him at his mis- 
takes. If she went out to walk, she presently 
found herself overtaken by Mr. Angerstyne : 
and they would linger in the mellow light of 
the soft autumn days, or in the eatV^ X.>n'^\^>l* 

VOL. in. ^ 

66 Johnny Ludlow. 

Whatever might come of it, there could be no 
question that for the time being she was living 
in the most intense happiness. And about a 
fortnight of this went on without interruption. 

Then Dr. Lewis began to droop. One day 
when he was out he had another of those 
attacks in the carriage. It was very slight, Mrs. 
Lewis said when they got back; he did not 
lose consciousness for more than three or four 
minutes. But he continued to be so weak and 
ill afterwards that a physician was called in — 
Dr. Maiden. What he said was known only to 
the patient and his wife, for nobody else was 
admitted to the conference. 

'' I want to go home," the Doctor said to 
Anne the next morning, speaking in his usual 
querulous, faint tone, and as if his mind were 
half gone. " Tm sure I did not smell any paint 
the last time ; it must have been her fancy. I 
want to go there to be quiet.'' 

" Well, papa, why don't you say so ?" 

" But it's of no use my saying so : she won't 
listen. I can't stand the racket here, child, and 
the perpetual driving out : the wheels of the 
carriages shake my head. And look at the 
expense ! It frightens me." 

Anne scarcely knew what to answer. She 
herself was powerless ; and, so far as she be- 
lieved, her father was ; utterly so. Powerless 
in the hands of his new wife. Dr. Lewis 
glanced round the room as if to make sure there 

Anne. 67 

were no eavesdroppers, and went on in a 

** Tm terrified, Anne. I am being ruined. 
All my ready money s gone ; she has had it all ; 
she made me draw it out of the bank. And 
there, in that drawer, are two rolls of bills ; she 
brought them to me yesterday, and there's no- 
thing to pay them with." 

Anne's heart fluttered. Was he only fancy- 
ing these things in his decaying mind ? Or, 
were they true } 

'* September has now come in, papa, and your 
quarter's dividends will soon be due, you know. 
Do not worry yourself." 

*^ They have been forestalled/' he whispered. 
'* She owed a lot of things before her marriage, 
and the people would have sued me had I not 
paid them. I wish we were back in France, 
child 1 I wish we had never left it !" And, but 
for one thing, Anne would have wished it, too. 

One afternoon, when it was getting late, Anne 
went into High Street to buy some ribbon 
for her hair. Mrs. Lewis and her party had 
gone over to Croome, somebody having given 
her an order to see the gardens there. Lake's 
house was as busy as it could be, some fresh 
inmates of consequence being expected that 
evening ; Anne had been helping Miss Dinah, 
and it was only at the last minute she coxild ivvx\ 


68 Johnny Ludlow. 

out. In coming back, the ribbon bought, just 
abreast of the college gates she heard steps be- 
hind her, and found her arm touched. It was 
by Mr. Angerstyne. For the past two days — 
nearly three — he had been absent at Malvern. 
The sight of him was to her as if the sun had 

" Oh ! — is it you ? — are you back ?" she cried, 
with as much quiet indifference as she could put 

" I have just got back. My aunt is better. 
And how are you, Anne ?" 

" Very well, thank you.*' 

" Need you go in yet ? Let us take a short 
stroll. The afternoon is delightful." 

He called it afternoon, but it was getting on 
fast for evening : and he turned in at the college 
gates as he spoke. So they wound round St. 
Michsel's churchyard and passed on to the 
Dark Alley, and so down the long flight of steps 
that leads from it, and on to the banks of the 

" How are you all going on at Lake's ?" he 
asked presently, breaking the silence. 

** Just as usual. To-day is a grand field day," 
Anne added gaily : " at least, this evening is to 
be one, and we are not to dine till seven 

** Seven ? So much the better. But why ?" 

** Some people of importance are coming " 

Mr. Angerstyne's laugh interrupted her. She 
m laughed also. 

Anne. 69 

" It is what Miss Dinah said : ' people of im- 
portance/ They will arrive late, so the dinner- 
hour is put off." 

" Take care, Anne !'' 

A horse, towing a barge, was overtaking 
them. Mr. Angerstyne drew Anne out of the 
way, and the dinner and the new guests were 

It was almost dusk when they returned. The 
figures on the college tower were darkened, as 
they came through the large boat-house gate- 
way : the old elm-trees yonder, filled with their 
cawing rooks, looked weird in the dim twilight. 
Mr. Angerstyne did not turn to the Dark Alley 
again, but went straight up to the Green. He 
was talking of his estate in Essex. It was a 
topic often chosen by him ; and Anne seemed 
to know the place quite well by this time. 

" You would like the little stream that runs 
through the grounds/' he was observing. " It 
is not, of course, like the grand river we have 
just left, but it is pleasant to wander by, for it 
winds in and out in the most picturesque 
manner possible, and the banks are over- 
shadowed by trees. Yes, Anne, you would 
like that." 

** Are you going through the cloisters ? — is it 
not too late ?'* she interrupted, quite at a loss 
for something to say ; not caring to answer that 
she should like to wander by the stream. 

For he was crossing towards the \vVX\e so>\'Ccv 

70 Johnny Ludlow. 

cloister door : though onwards through the 
Green would have been their more direct road. 

" Too late ? No. Why should it be ? You 
are not afraid of ghosts, are you ?" 

Anne laughed. But, lest she should be 
afraid of ghosts, he put her hand within his 
arm as they passed through the dark narrow 
passage beyond the postern ; aud so they 
marched arm-in-arm through the cloisters. 

" To sit by that winding stream on a summer s 
day listening to its murmurs, to the singing of the 
birds, the sweet sighing of the trees ; or holding 
low converse with a cherished companion — yes, 
Anne, you would like that. It would just suit 
you, for you are of a silent and dreamy nature." 

There might not be much actual meaning in 
the words if you sat down to analyze them : 
but, to the inexperienced mind of Anne, they 
sounded very like plain speaking. At any rate, 
she took them to be an earnest that she should 
sometime sit by that stream with him — ^his wife. 
The dusky cloisters seemed to have suddenly 
filled themselves with refulgent light ; the 
gravestones over which she was passing felt 
soft as the mossy glades of fairy-land : ay, even 
that mysterious stone that bears on it the one 
terrible word *'Miserrimus." Heaven was 
above her, and heaven beneath : there was no 
longer any prosaic earth for Anne Lewis. 

'* Good-night to you, gentlefolks.*' 

TAe salutation was from tVve doxster porter ; 

Anne. 71 

who, coming in to close the gates, met them as 
they were nearing the west door. Not another 
word had passed until now : Mr. Angerstyne 
had fallen into silence ; Anne could not have 
spoken to gain the world. 

"Good-night to you, my man," he an- 

Lake's was in a bustle when they reached it. 
The luggage of the new people, who had just 
been shown to their chambers, was being taken 
in ; the carriage containing Dr. and Mrs. Lewis 
■was then just driving up. Anne felt alarmed as 
she caught sight of her father, he looked so very 
ill. Mr. Angerstyne, in his ready, kindly way, 
waited to help him down and give him his arm 
along the passage ; he then ran up to his room, 
remarking that he had letters to write. 

The people assembled for dinner in full fig, 
out of deference to the new comers : who proved 
to be a Lady Knight, and a Mrs. and Miss 
Colter. Anne wore her pretty grey bridesmaid*s 
dress, and the ribbon, just bought, in her hair. 
At the very last moment, Mr. Angerstyne came 
down, his hands full of the letters he had been 

" Why, are you here ?" exclaimed to him Lady 
Knight : who seemed to be a chatty, voluble 
woman. " I am surprised.*' 

Mr. Angerstyne, putting his letters on the 
side table, until he could take them to the post, 
turned round at the address. A mometv^s^X^x^^ 

72 Johnny Ludlow. 

half doubt, half astonishment, and he went for- 
ward to shake Lady Knight's hand. 

'* What brings you here ?" she asked. 

** I have been here some little time. Old 
Miss Gibson is at Malvern, so I can't go far 

There was no opportunity for more : dinner 
was waiting. Mr. Angerstyne and Anne sat 
side by side that evening; Lady Knight was 
opposite. Miss Diana presided as usual, her 
best yellow cap perched on the top of her curls. 

During an interval of silence between the 
general bustle and clatter of the dinner, for the 
two girls who waited (after their own fashion), 
had both run away with the fish to bring in the 
meat, Lady Knight looked across the table to 
put a question to Mr. Angerstyne. 

" How is your wife ?" 

The silence dropped to a dead stillness. He 
appeared not to hear. 

** How is your wife, Henry Angerstyne ? 
Have you seen her lately ?" 

He could not make believe to be deaf any 
longer, and answered with angry curtness. 

" No, I have not. She is all right, I suppose." 

By the way the whole table stared, you might 
have thought a bomb-shell had fallen. Miss 
Diana sat with her mouth open in sheer amaze- 
ment, and then spoke involuntarily. 

** Are you really married, Mr. Angerstyne ?" 

** Of course he is married," said Lady Knight, 

Anne. 73 

answering Miss Diana. " All the world knows 
that. His wife is my cousin. I saw her at 
Lowestoft a few weeks ago, Henry. She was 
looking prettier than ever." 

** Ah, Mr. Angerstyne, how sly you were, 
, not to tell us T' cried Mrs. Lewis, playfully 
shaking her fan at him. *' You Oh, good- 
ness me r* 

A loud crash ! Jenny the maid had dropped 
a hot vegetable dish on the floor, scattering the 
pieces and spilling the peas ; and followed it up 
with a shriek and a scream. That took off the 
attention ; and Mr. Angerstyne, coolly eating 
away at his bread, turned to make some passing 
remark to Anne. 

But the words he would have said were left 
unspoken. No ghost ever seen, in cloisters or 
out of them, was whiter than she. Lips and 
fingers were alike trembling. 

** You should be more careful, Jenny !" he 
called out in a tone of authority. *' Ladies don't 
care to be startled in this way.'' Just as though 
Anne had turned white from the clatter of the 
broken dish ! 

Well, it had been a dreadful revelation for 
her. All the sunshine of this world seemed to 
have gone out for ever; to have left nothing 
behind it but a misty darkness. Rallying her pride 
and her courage, she went on eating her dinner, 
as the others did. Her head was throbbing, her 
brain burning; her inind had turned to cJcva.o's.* j 

74 Johnny Ludlozv. 

She heard them making arrangements to go on 
a picnic party to the woods at Croome on the 
morrow ; not in the least understanding what 
was said, or planned. 

" You did surprise us I" observed Mrs. Lewis 
to Lady Knight, when they were in the draw- 
ing-room after dinner, and Mr. Angerstyne 
had gone out to post his letters. " What could 
have been his motive for allowing us to think 
him a bachelor ?" 

'^A dislike to mention her name," replied 
Lady Knight, candidly. *' That was it, I ex- 
pect. He married her for her pretty face, and 
then found out what a goose she was. So they 
did not get on together. She goes her way, 
and he goes his ; now and then they meet for 
a week or two, but it is not often." 

" What a very unsatisfactory state of things !" 
cried Miss Dinah, handing round the cups of 
coffee herself for fear of another upset. *' Is it 
her fault, or his ?" 

" Faults lie on both sides," said Lady Knight, 
who had an abrupt way of speaking, and was 
as poor as a church mouse. " She has a fear- 
fully affronting temper of her own ; those women 
with dolls' faces sometimes have ; and he was 
not as forbearing as he might have been. Any 
way, that is the state of affairs between Mr. 
and Mrs. Angerstyne ; and, apart from it,, 
there's no scandal or reproach attaching to 
either of them'' 

Anne. 75 

Anne, sitting in a quiet corner, listened to all 
this mechanically. What mattered the details 
to her ? — the broad fact had been enough. The 
hum of conversation was going on all around ; 
her father, looking somewhat the better for his 
dinner, was playing at backgammon with Tom 
Lake. She saw nothing, knew nothing, until 
Mr. Angerstyne dropped into the seat beside 

*' Shall you join this expedition to Croome, 
to-morrow, Anne ?" 

Julia and Fanny were thumping over a duet, 
pedal down , and Anne barely caught the low- 
spoken words. 

" I do not know," she answered, after a brief 
pause. *' My head aches." 

" I don't much care about it myself ; rather 
the opposite. I shall certainly not go if you 

Whyl he was speaking to her just as 
though nothing had occurred ! If anything could 
have added to her sense of shame and misery, 
it was this. It sounded like an insult, arousing 
all the spirit she possessed ; her whole nature 
rose in rebellion against his line of conduct. 

"Why have you been talking to me these 
many weeks, as you have been talking, Mr. 
Angerstyne ?" she asked in her straightforward 
simplicity, turning her face to his. 

" There has been no harm in it," he answered. 
'^ Harmf she repeated, from \vet ^tww'^ 

76 Johnny Ludlow. 

heart. " Perhaps not to you. There has been 
at least no good in it." 

** If you only knew what an interval of plea- 
santness it has been for me, Anne ! Almost 
deluding me into forgetting my odious chains 
and fetters." 

" Would 2Lgentlema7i have so amused himself, 
Mr. Angerstyne ?" 

But she gave him no opportunity of reply. 
Rising from her seat, and drawing her slight 
form to its full height, she looked into his face 
steadily, knowing not perhaps how much of 
scorn and reproach her gaze betrayed, then 
crossed the room and sat down by her father. 
Oncis after that she. caught his eye : caught the 
expression of sorrow, of repentance, of deep 
commiseration that shone in every line of his 
face — for she could not altogether hide the pain 
seated in her own. And later, amid the bustle 
of the general good-nights, she found her hand 
pressed within his, and heard his whispered, 
contrite prayer 

" Forgive me, Anne ; forgive me !*' 

She lay awake all night, resolving to be 
brave, to make no sign ; praying heaven to help 
her bear the anguish of her sorely-stricken heart, 
not to let the blow quite kill her. It seemed to 
her that she must feel it henceforth during all 
her life. 

And before the house was well up in the 
morning, a messenger arrived post haste from 

Anne. "jj 

Malvern, to summon Mr. Angerstyne to his 
aunt's dying bed. He told Miss Dinah, when 
he shook hands with her at parting, that she 
might as well send his traps after him, if she 
would be so kind, as he thought he might not 
be able to return to Worcester again. 

And that was the ending of Anne Lewis's 
love. Not a very uncommon end, people say. 
But she had been hardly dealt by. 


The blinds of a house closely drawn, the snow 
drifting against the windows outside, and some- 
body lying dead upstairs, cannot be called a 
lively state gf things. Mrs. Lewis and her 
daughters, Julia and Fanny Podd, sitting over 
the fire in the darkened dining-room at May- 
thorn Bank, were finding it just the con- 

When Dr. Lewis, growing worse and worse 
during their sojourn at Lake's boarding-house 
at Worcester the previous autumn, had one day 
plucked-up courage to open his mind to his 
physician, telling him that he was pining for 
the quiet of his own little cottage home, and 
that the stir and racket at Lake's was more 
than he could bear, Dr. Maiden peremptorily 
told Mrs. Lewis that he must have tv\s^^\^Vv, 

78 Johnny Ludlow. 

and go. So she had to give in, and prepared 
to take him ; though it went frightfully against 
the grain. That was in September, three 
months back ; he had been getting weaker and 
more imbecile ever since, and now, just as 
Christmas was turned, he had sunk quietly 
away to his rest. 

Anne, his loving, gentle daughter, had been 
his constant companion and attendant. He had 
not been so ill as to lie in bed, but a great deal 
had to be done for him, especially in the matter 
of amusing what poor remnant of mind was 
left. She read to him, she talked to him, she 
wrapped greatcoats about him, and took him 
out to walk on sunshiny days in the open walk 
by the laurels. It was well for Anne that she 
was thus incessantly occupied, for it diverted 
her mind from the misery left there by the un- 
warrantable conduct of Mr. Angerstyne. When 
a girl's lover proves faithless, to dwell upon 
him and lament him brings to her a kind of 
painful pleasure ; but that negative indulgence 
was denied to Anne Lewis : Henry Angerstyne 
was the husband of another, and she might not, 
willingly, keep him in her thoughts. To forget 
him, as she strove to do, was a hard and bitter 
task : but the indignation she felt at the man's 
deceit and cruel conduct was materially helping 
her. Once, since, she had seen his name in the 
Times : it was amidst the list of visitors staying 
Bt some nobleman's country house : Henry 

Aiine. 79 

Angerstyne. And the thrill that passed through 
her veins as the name caught her eye, the 
sudden stopping and then rushing violently 
onwards of her life's blood, convinced her how 
little she had forgotten him. 

" But I shall forget him in time," she said to 
herself, pressing her hand upon her wildly- 
beating heart. ** In time, God helping 

And from that moment she redoubled her 
care and thought for her father ; and he died 
blessing her and her love for him. 

Anne felt the loss keenly ; though perhaps 
not quite so much so as she would have felt it 
had her later life been less full of suffering. 
It seemed to be but the last drop added to her 
cup of bitterness. She knew that to himself 
death was a^release : he had ceased to find 
pleasure in life. And now she was left amidst 
strangers, or worse than strangers ; she seemed 
not to have a friend to turn to in the wide 

Dr. Lewis had died on Monday morning. 
This was Tuesday. Mrs. Lewis had been 
seeing people to-day and yesterday, giving her 
orders ; but never once consulting Anne, or 
paying her the compliment to say, Would you 
like it to be this way, or that ? 

" How on earth any human being could have 
pitched upon this wretched out-of-the-world a 
place, Crabb, to settle down in, puzzles m^ covc^- I 

8o Johnny Ludlow. 

pletely/' suddenly exclaimed Mrs. Lewis, bend- 
ing forward to stir the fire. 

*' He must have been a lunatic," acquiesced 
Julia, irreverently alluding to the poor man who 
was lying in the room above. 

" Not a decent shop in the place ! Not a 
dressmaker who can cut out a properly-fitting 
skirt ! Be quiet, Fanny : you need not danceJ^ 

" One does not know what to do," grumbled 
Fanny, ceasing to shuffle, and returning to her 
seat. " But I should like to know, mamma, 
about our mourning." 

" I think I shall go to Worcester to-day and 
order it," spoke up Mrs. Lewis briskly, after a 
pause of doubt. " Necessity has no law ; and 
we cannot get proper things unless I do. Yes, 
we will go : I don't mind the weather. Julia, 
ring the bell." m 

Anne — poor Anne — came in to answer the 
bell. She had no choice : Sally was out on an 

"Just see that we have a tray in with the 
cold meat, Anne, at half-past twelve. We must 
go to Worcester about the mourning " 

** To Worcester I" involuntarily interrupted 
Anne, in her surprise. 

" There's no help for it, though of course it's 
not the thing I would choose to do," said Mrs. 
Lewis, coldly. '* One cannot provide proper 
things here : bonnets especially. I will get 
you a bonnet at the same time. And we must 

Anne. 8i 

have a bit of something, hot and nice, for tea, 
when we come home." 

" Very well," sighed Anne. 

In the afternoon, Anne sat in the same room 
alone, busy over some black work, on which 
her tears dropped slowly. When it was grow- 
ing dusk, Mr. Coney and the young Rector of 
Timberdale came in together. Herbert Taner- 
ton did not forget that his late stepfather and Dr. 
Lewis were half brothers. Anne brushed away 
the signs of her tears, laid down her work, and 
stirred the fire into a blaze. 

" Now, my lass," said the farmer, in his plain, 
homely way, but he always meant kindly, " Fve 
just heard that that step-mother of yours went 
off to Worcester to-day with those two dandi- 
fied girls of hers, and so I thought Fd drop in 
while the co^t was clear. I confess I don't like 
her : and I say that somebody ought to look a 
bit to you and your interests." 

** And I, coming over upon much the same 
errand, met Mr. Coney at the gate," added Her- 
bert Tanerton, with a smile as near geniality as 
he ever gave. " I wish to express my deep re- 
gret for your loss. Miss Lewis, and to assure you 
of my true sympathy. You will think my visit 
a late one, but I had a — a service this afternoon." 
He would not say a funeral. 

"You 'are both very kind, very," said Anne, 
her eyes again filling, "and I thank you for 
thinking of me. I feel isolated from. 2l\\ \ aNxv^ | 

VOL. III. 6 

82 Johnny Ludlow. 

place at best is but strange to me after my life's 
home in France. It seems that I have not a 
friend in the world/' 

„ Yes, you have," said the farmer ; " and if 
my wife had not been staying with our sick 
daughter at Worcester, she'd have been in to 
tell you the same. My dear, you are just going, 
please, to make a friend of me. And you won't 
think two or three questions, that I'd like to put, 
impertinent, will you ?" 

" That I certainly will not," said Anne. 

*' Well, now, to begin with : Did your father 
make a will ?" 

'^ Oh yes. I hold it." 

" And do you chance to know how the pro- 
perty is left ?" 

** To me. No name but my own is mentioned 
m It. 

** Then you'll be all right," said Mr. Coney. 
*^ I feared he might have been leaving somebody 
else some. You will have about ;^25o a-year : 
and that's enough for a young girl. When your 
father first came over, he spoke to me of his 
income and his means." 

*' I — I fear the income will be somewhat 
diminished from what it was," hesitated Anne, 
turning red at having to confess so much, because 
it would tell against her stepmother. *' My 
father has had to sell out a good deal lately ; to 
entrench upon his capital. I think the trouble 
it gave him hastened his end." 

Anne. 83 

•* Sell out for what ?" asked old Coney. 

" For bills, and — and debts, that came upon 

" Her bills ? Her debts ?" 

Anne did not expressly answer, but old Coney 
caught up the truth, and nodded his head in 
wrath. He as good as knew it before. 

" Well, child, I suppose you may reckon, at 
the worst, on a clear two hundred a-year, and 
you can live on that. Not keep house, perhaps; 
and it would be very lonely for you also. You 
will have to take up your abode with some 
pleasant family : many a one would be glad to 
have you." 

" I should like to go back to France," sighed 
Anne, recalling the bitter misery that England 
had brought her : first in her new stepmother, 
then in Mr. Angerstyne, and now in her father's 
death. " I have many dear friends in France 
who will take every care of me." 

** Well, I don't know," cried old Coney, with 
a blank look. ** France may be very well for 
some people ; but I'd a most as lieve go to 
the gallows as there. Don't you like Eng- 
land ?' 

" I should like it well, if I — if I could be 
happy in it," she answered, turning red again 
at the thought of him who had marred her 
happiness. " But, you see, I have no ties here." 

" You must make ties, my lass." 

" How much of the income ought 1 to ^^.^ 


84 Johnny Ltidlow. 

over yearly to Mrs. Lewis, do you think ?*' she 
questioned. " Half of it ?" 

" Half! No !" burst forth old Coney, cough- 
ing down a strong word which had nearly 
slipped out. *^ You will give her none. None. 
A pretty idea of justice you must have, Anne 

" But it would be fair to give it her/' argued 
Anne. " My father married her.'' 

*' Oh, did he, though ! She married him. / 
know. Other folks know. You will giveher none, 
my dear, and allow her none. She is a hard, 
scheming, deceitful brick-bat of a woman. 
What made her lay hold of your poor weakened 
father, and play off upon him her wiles and her 
guiles, and marry him, right or wrong ?" ran on 
old Coney, getting purple enough for apoplexy. 
** She did it for a home ; she did it that she might 
get her back debts paid ; that's what. She has 
had her swing as long as his poor life lasted, and 
put you down as if you were a changeling ; we 
have all seen that. Now that her short day's 
over, she must go back again to her own ways 
and means. Ask the parson there what he 

The parson, in his cold sententious way, that 
was so much more suited to an old bishop than 
a young rector, avowed that he thought with 
Mr. Coney. He could not see that Mrs* 
Lewis's few months of marriage entitled her 
(all attendant circumstances being taken into 

Anne. 85 

consideration) to deprive Miss Lewis of any 
portion of her patrimony. 

" You are sure you have got the will all tight 
and safe ?" resumed Mr. Coney. " I wouldn't 
answer for her not stealing it. Ah, you may 
laugh, young lassie, but I don't like that woman. 
Miss Dinah Lake was talking to me a bit the 
other day ; she don't like her, either." 

Anne was smiling at his vehement partisan- 
ship. She rose, unlocked a desk that stood on 
the side-table, and brought out a parchment, 
folded and sealed. It was subscribed " Will of 
Thomas Lewis, M.D." 

** Here it is," she said. " Papa had it drawn 
up by an English lawyer just before we left 
France. He gave it to me, as he was apt to 
mislay things himself, charging me to keep it 

"And mind you do keep it safely," enjoined 
old Coney. '* It won't be opened, I suppose, till 
after the funeral's over." 

" But wait a minute," interposed the clergy- 
man. '* Does not marriage — a subsequent 
marriage — render a will invalid ?" 

'* Bless my heart, no : much justice there'd 
be in that 1" retorted old Coney, who knew 
about as much of law as he did of the moon. 
And Mr. Tanerton said no more ; he was not 
certain ; and supposed the older and more 
experienced man might be right. 

Anne sighed as she locked up the m\\ ^^^vtv. 

86 Johnny Ludlow. 

She was both just and generous ; and she knew 
she should be sure to hand over to Mrs. Lewis 
the half of whatever income it might give her. 

'* Well, my girl," said the farmer, as they 
prepared to leave, " if you want me, or any- 
thing I can do, you just send Sally over, and 
rU be here in a jiffy." 

*Mt is to be at Timberdale, I conclude ?'' 
whispered Herbert Tanerton, as he shook 
hands. Anne knew that he alluded to the 
funeral ; and the colour came up in her face as 
she answered. 

*' I don't know. My father wished it ; he 
said he washed to lie by his brother. But Mrs. 
Lewis — here they come, I think." 

They came in with snowy bonnets and red 
noses, stamping the slush off their shoes. It 
was a good walk from the station. Mrs. Lewis 
had expected to get a fly there ; one was 
generally in waiting : but somebody jumped out 
of the train before she did, and secured it. It 
made her feel cross and look cross. 

" Such a wretched trapes 1" she was beginning 
in a vinegar tone ; but at sight of the gentle- 
men her face and voice smoothed down to oil. 
She begged them to resume their seats; but 
they said they were already going. 

•* We were just asking about the funeral," 
the farmer stayed to say. " It is to be at 
Timberdale ?" 

\}p went Mrs. Lewis's handkerchief to her 

Anne. 87 

eyes. " Dear Mr. Coney, I think not. Crabb 
will be better." 

" But he wished to lie at Timberdale." 

'* Crabb will be so much cheaper — and less 
trouble," returned the widow, with a sob. '* It 
is as well to avoid useless expense." 

" Cheaper !" cried old Coney, his face purple 
again with passion, so much did he dislike her 
and her ways. "Not cheaper at all. Dearer. 
Dearer, ma am. Must have a hearse and coach, 
any way : and Herbert Tanerton here won't 
charge fees if it's done at Timberdale." 

" Oh, just as you please, my dear sir. And 
if he wished it, poor dear ! Yes, yes ; Timber- 
dale of course. Anywhere." 

They got out before she had dried her eyes 
— or pretended at it. Julia and Fanny then 
fetched in some bandboxes, which had been 
waiting in the passage. Mrs. Lewis forgot her 
tears, and put back her cloak. 

*^ Which is Anne's ?" she asked. '' Oh, this 
one " — beginning to undo one of the boxes. 
" My own will be sent to-morrow night. I 
bought yours quite plain, Anne." 

Very plain indeed was the bonnet she handed 
out. Plain and common, and made of the 
cheapest materials ; one that a lady would not 
like to put upon her head. Julia and Fanny 
were trying theirs on at the chimney-glass. 
Gay bonnets, theirs, glistening with jet beads 
and black flowers. The bill lay opetv otv \Jcv^ 

88 Johnny Ludlow. 

table, and Anne read the cost : her own, tvvelve 
shillings; the other two, thirty-three shillings 
each. Mrs. Lewis made a grab at the bill, and 
crushed it into her pocket. 

" I knew you would prefer it plain," said she* 
" For real mourning it is always a mistake to 
have things too costly.'' 

" True," acquiesced Anne ; " but yet — I think 
they should h^good^ 

It seemed to her that to wear this bonnet 
would be very like disrespect to the dead. She 
silently determined to buy a better as soon as 
she had the opportunity. 

Of all days, for weather, the one of the 
funeral was about the worst Sleet, snow, rain, 
and wind. The Squire had a touch of lumbago; 
he could not face it ; and old Coney came 
bustling in to say that I was to attend in his 
place. Anne wanted Johnny Ludlow to go all 
along, he added ; her father had liked him ; 
only there was no room before in the coach. 

** Yes, yes," cried the Squire, ''Johnny of 
course. He is not afraid of lumbago. Make 
haste and get into your black things, lad." 

Well, it was shivery, as we rolled along in 
the creachy old mourning-coach, behind the 
hearse : Mr. Coney and the Podds* cousin- 
lawyer from Birmingham on one side ; I and 
Cole, the doctor, opposite. The sleet pattered 
against the windows, the wind whistled in our 

Anne. 89 

.ears. The lawyer kept saying "eugh," and 
shaking his shoulders, telling us he had a cold 
in his head ; and looked just as stern as he had 
at the wedding. 

All was soon over: Herbert Tanerton did 
not read slowly to-day : and we got back to 
Maythorn Bank. Cole had left us : he stopped 
the coach en route, and cut across a field to see 
a patient : but Mr. Coney drew me into the 
house with him after the lawyer. 

•*We will go in, Johnny,*' he whispered. 
*• The poor girl has no relation or friend to back 
her up, and I shall stay with her while the will's 

Mrs. Lewis, in a new widow's cap as big as a 
house, and the two girls in shining jet chains, 
-were sitting in state. Anne came in the next 
minute, her face pale, her eyes red. We all sat 
down; and for a short while looked at one 
another in silence, like so many mutes. 

" Any will to be read ? I am told there is 
one," spoke the lawyer — who had, as Fanny 
Podd whispered to me, a wife at home as sour 
as himself. '' If so, it had better be produced : 
I have to catch a train." 

" Yes, there is a will," answered old Coney, 
glad to find that Anne, as he assumed, had men- 
tioned the fact "Miss Lewis holds the will. 
Will you get it, my dear ?" 

Anne unlocked the desk on the side- table, 
and put the will into Mr. Coney s hand. "NN \>Jcv- 


90 Johnny Ludlow. 

out saying with your leave, or by your leave, 
he broke the seals, and clapped on his spec- 

" What's that ?' Mrs. Lewis asked old Coney, 
from her seat on the sofa. 

*^ Dr. Lewis's will, ma'am. Made in France, 
I believe : was it not, Miss Anne ?" 

" My dear, sweet creature, it is so much waste 
paper," spoke Mrs. Lewis, smiling sweetly upon 
Anne. " My deeply-lamented husband's last 
will and testament was made long since he left 

Pulling up the sofa pillow at her elbow, she 
produced another will, and asked the lawyer if 
he would be good enough to unseal and read 
it. It had been made, as the date proved, at 
Cheltenham, the day after she and Dr. Lewis 
were married ; and it left every earthly thing 
he possessed to ** his dear wife, Louisa Jane 

Old Coney's face was a picture. He stared 
alternately at the will in his hands, at the one 
just read by the lawyer. Anne stood meekly by 
his side ; looking as if she did not understand 

" That can't stand good !" spoke the farmer 
in his honest indignation. ^^ The money can't 
go to you, ma'am" — turning his burly form about 
to face Mrs. Lewis, and treading on my toes 
as he did it. '* The money is this young lady's : 
part of it comes from her own mother : it can't 

Anne. 91 

be yours. Thomas Lewis must have signed the 
will in his sleep." 

" Does a daughter inherit before a wife, dear 
sir ?" cried Mrs. Lewis, in a voice soft as butter. 
" It is the most just will my revered husband 
could have made. I need the money : I cannot 
keep on the house without it. Anne does not 
need it : she has no house to keep.'' 

** Look here," says old Coney, buttoning his 
coat and looking fiercely at the company. ** It's 
not my wish to be rude to-day, remembering 
what place we came straight here from ; but if 
you don't want to be put down as — as schemers, 
you will not lose an hour in making over the 
half of that income to Anne Lewis. It is what 
she proposed to do by yotc^ madam, when she 
thought all was left to her," he added, brushing 
past Mrs. Lewis. *' Come along, Johnny." 

The time went on. Mrs. Lewis kept all the 
money. She gave notice to leave the house at 
midsummer : but she had it on her hands until 
then, and told people she should die of its dul- 
ness. So far as could be known, she had little^ 
if any, income, save that which she inherited 
from E)r. Lewis. 

Anne's days did not pass in clover. Treated 
as of no account, she was made fully to under- 
stand that she was only tolerated in what was 
once her own home ; and she had to rcvakfc 

92 Johnny Lualow. 

herself useful in it from morning till night, just 
like a servant. Remembering what had been, 
and what was, Anne felt heart-broken, submit- 
ting patiently and unresistingly to trials ; but a 
reaction set in, and her spirit grew rebellious. 

*Ms there any remedy, I wonder ?" she asked 
herself one night in her little chamber, when 
preparing for bed, and the day had been a 
particularly trying day. She had ventured to 
ask for a few shillings for some purpose or other, 
and was told she could not have them : being 
Easter Monday, Sally had had a holiday, and 
she had been kept at work like a slave in the 
girl's place : Herbert Tanerton and his wife 
had come to invite her for a day or two to 
Timberdale, and a denial was returned to them 
without herself being consulted, or even allowed 
to see them. Yes, it had been a trying day. And 
in France Easter had always been kept as z,fite. 

"Is there not a remedy ?" she debated, as 
she slowly undressed. *' I have no home but 
this ; but — could I not find one ?*' 

She knew that she had no means of living, 
save by her own exertions ; she had not even 
a rag to wear or a coin to spend, save what 
should come to her by Mrs. Lewis's bounty. 
And, whether that lady possessed bounty or 
not, she seemed never to possess ready money. 
It appeared to Anne that she had been hardly 
dealt by in more ways than one ; that the world 
was full of nothing but injustice and trouble. 

Anne. 93 

" And I fancy," added Anne, thinking out 
her thoughts, ** that they will be glad to get 
rid of me ; that they want me gone. So I dare 
say there will be no objection made here." 

With morning light, she was up and busy. 
It fell to her lot to prepare the breakfast : and 
she must not keep the ladies waiting for it one 
minute. This morning, however, she had to 
keep them waiting ; but not through any fault 
of hers. 

They grew impatient. Five minutes past 
nine : ten minutes past nine : what did Anne 
mean ? Julia and Fanny were not much better 
dressed than when they got out of bed ; old 
jackets on, rough and rumpled hair stuck up 
with hair-pins. In that respect they presented 
a marked contrast to Anne, who was ever trim 
and nice. 

" I'm sure she must be growing the coffee- 
berries 1" cried Fanny, as she flung the door 
open. '* Is that breakfast coming to-day, or to- 
morrow ?" 

'^ In two minutes," called back Anne. 

" Oh, what a dreary life it is, out here !" 
groaned Mrs. Lewis. " Girls, I think we will 
go over to Worcester to-day, and arrange to 
stay a week at Lake's. And then you can go 
to the subscription ball at the Town Hall, that 
you are so wild over." 

^* Oh, do, do !" cried Julia, all animation now. 
" If I don't go to that ball, I shall die." 

94 Johnny Ludlow. 

" I shall run away if we don't ; I have said 
all along I would not miss the Easter ball/* 
spoke Fanny. " Mamma, I cannot think why 
you don't shut this miserable house up 1" 

" Will you find the rent for another ?" coolly 
asked Mrs. Lewis. " What can that girl be at 
with the coffee ?" 

It came in at last ; and Anne was railed at 
for her laziness. When she could get a word 
in, she explained that Sally had had an accident 
with the tea-kettle, and fresh water had to be 

More indignation : Julia's ^gg turned out to 
be bad. What business had Anne to boil bad 
eggs ? Anne, saying nothing, took it away, 
boiled another and brought it in. Then Mrs. 
Lewis fancied she could eat a thin bit of toasted 
bacon ; and Anne must go and do it at the end 
of a fork. Altogether the breakfast was nearly 
at an end before she could sit down at a corner 
of the table and eat her own bread and butter. 

'* I have been thinking," she began, in a 
hesitating tone, to Mrs. Lewis, *' that I should 
like to go out. If you have no objection." 

" Go out where ?" 

" Into some situation." 

Mrs. Lewis, in the act of conveying a piece 
of bacon to her mouth, held it suspended in mid 
air, and stared at Anne in amazement. 

'* Into what ?" 

*' A situation in some gentleman's family. I 

Anne. 95 

have no prospect before me ; no home ; I must 
earn my own living." 

" The girl's daft 1" cried Mrs. Lewis, resum- 
ing her breakfast. " No home ! Why, you 
have a home [here ; your proper home. Was 
it not your father's ?" 

" Yes. But it is not mine." 
" It is yours ; and your days in it are spent 
usefully. What more can you want ? Now, 
Anne, hold your tongue, and don't talk non- 
sense. If you have finished your breakfast you 
can begin to take the things away." 

" Mamma, why don't you let her go ?" 
whispered Fanny, as Anne went out with the 
first lot of plates. 

'* Because she is useful to me," said Mrs. 
Lewis. " Who else is there to see to our com- 
forts ? we should be badly off with that in- 
capable Sally. And who would do all the needle- 
work? recollect how much she gets through. 
No ; as long as we are here, Anne must stay 
with us. Besides, the neighbourhood would 
have its say finely if we let her turn out. 
People talk, as it is, about the will, and are not 
so friendly as they might be. As if they would 
like me to fly in the face of my dear departed 
husband's wishes, and tacitly reproach his judg- 
ment !" 

But Anne did not give up. When she had 
taken all the things away and folded up the 
table-cloth, she came in again and spoke. 

g6 Johnny Ludlow. 

** I hope you will not oppose me in this, Mrs. 
Lewis. I should like to take a situation." 

" And, pray, what situation do you suppose 
you could take ?" ironically spoke Mrs. Lewis. 
** You are not fitted to fill one in a gentleman's 

** Unless it be as cook-maid," put in Julia. 

** Or seamstress," said Fanny. " By the way, 
I want some more cufifs made, Anne." 

" I should like to try for a situation, notwith- 
standing my deficiencies. I could do something 
or other." 

** There, that's enough : must I tell you again 
not to talk nonsense ?" retorted Mrs. Lewis. 
** And now you must come upstairs and see to 
my things, and to Julias and Fanny's. We are 
going to Worcester by the half-past eleven 
train — and you may expect us home to tea 
when you see us." 

They went off. As soon as their backs were 
turned, Anne came running into our house, 
finding me and Mrs. Todhetley at the piano. 
. It was pleasant Easter weather, though March 
was not out : the Squire and Todd had gone to 
Dyke Manor on some business, and would not 
be home till late. Anne told all her doubts and 
difficulties to the Mater, and asked her advice, 
as to whether there would be anything wrong 
in her seeking for a situation. 

"No, my dear," said the mother, ^' it would be 
right, instead of wrong. If " 

x -» 

Anne. 97 

** If people treated me as they treat you, 
Anne, I'd not stay with them a day," said I, 
hotly. " I don't like toads." 

^'Oh, Johnny!" cried Mrs. Todhetley. 
'* Never call names, dear. No obligation what- 
ever, Anne, lies on you to remain in that home; 
and I think you would do well to leave it. 
You shall stay and dine with me and Johnny at 
one o'clock, Anne ; and we will talk it over." 

*' I wish I could stay,'' said poor Anne ; ^' I 
hardly knew how to spare these few minutes to 
run here. Mrs. Lewis has left me a gown to 
unpick and turn, and I must hasten to begin it." 

** So would I begin it !" I cried, going out 
with her as far as the gate. *' And I should 
like to know who is a toad if she's not." 

" Don't you think I might be a nursery 
governess, Johnny ?" she asked me, turning 
round after going through the gate. " I might 
teach French and English and German : and I 
am very fond of little children. The difficulty 
will be to get an introduction. I have thought 
of one person who might give it me — if I could 
only dare to ask him." ■• 

*' Who's that ?" 


" Sir Robert Tenby. He is of the great 
world, and must know everybody .in it. And 
he has always shown himself so very sociable 
and kind. Do you think I migjit renture to 
apply to him ?" ^ " ^ 

" Why not ? He could not eat you tot yC J 

VOL. in. . • ' 7 

98 /ohnny Ludlow. 

She ran on, and I ran back. But, all that 
day, sitting over her task of work, Anne was in 
a state of shilly-shally, not able to make up her 
mind. It was impossible to know how Sir 
Robert Tenby might take it. 

" I have made you a drop of coffee and a bit 
of hot toast and butter, Miss Anne," said Sally, 
coming in with a small tray. ''Buttered it well. 
She's not here to see it." 

Anne laughed, and thanked her ; Mrs. Lewis 
had left them only cold bacon for dinner, and 
ordered them to wait tea until her return. But 
before the refreshment was well disposed of, she 
and the girls came in. 

** How soon you are back !" involuntarily 
cried Anne, hoping Mrs. Lewis would not smell 
the coffee. ** And how are they all at Lake's?" 

Mrs. Lewis answered by giving a snappish 
word to Lake's, and ordered Anne to get tea 
ready. Fanny whispered the information that 
they were going to Worcester on the morrow to 
stay over the Easter ball ; but not to Lakis. 
Anne wondered at that. 

Upon arriving at Lake's that morning. Miss 
Dinah had received them very coolly; and 
was, as Mrs. Lewis remarked afterwards,barely 
civil. The fact was, Miss Dinah, being just- 
minded, took up Anne's cause rather warmly ; 
and did not scruple to think that the beguiling 
poor weak-minded Dr. Lewis out of the will he 
made, was just a piece of iniquity, and nothing 

Ajuu. 99 

less. Perceiving Miss Dinah's crusty manner, 
Mrs. Lewis inquired after Mrs. Lake. "Where's 
Emma ?" she asked. 

"Very much occupied to-day. Can I do 
anything for you ?" 

"We are thinking of coming to you to- 
morrow for a week, Dinah ; I and my two girls. 
They are wild to go to the Easter ball. Which 
rooms can you give us ?" 

" Not any rooms," spoke Miss Dinah, deci- 
sively. " We cannot take you in." 

'^ Not take me in ! When the servant opened 
the door to us she said the house was not full. 
I put the question to her." 

" But we are expecting it to be full," said Miss 
Dinah, curtly. " The Beales generally come 
over to the ball ; and we must keep rooms for 

'* You don't know that they are coming, I ex- 
pect. And in a boarding-house the rule holds 
good, ' First come, first served.' " 

" A boarding-house holds its own rules, and 
is not guided by other people's. Very sorry : 
but we cannot make room this time for you and 
your daughters." 

" riLsoon see that," retorted Mrs. Lewis, get- 
ting hot. *' Where's Emma Lake ? I am her 
cousin, and shall insist on being taken in." 

*^She can't take you in without my consent. 
And she won't : that's more. Look here, Mrs. 
Podd — I beg your pardon — the new name do^s 



lOO Johnny Ludlow. 

not always come pat to me. When you were 
staying here before, and kept us so long out of 
our money, it put us to more inconvenience than 
you had any idea of. We-; '* 

" You were paid at last." 

"Yes," said Miss Dinah; ''with poor Dr. 
Lewis's money, I expect. We made our minds 
up then, Mrs. Lewis, not to take you again. At 
least, / did ; and Mrs. Lake agreed with me." 

** You will not have to wait again : I have 
money in my pocket now. And the girls must 
go to the ball on Thursday." 

** If your pockets are all full of money, it can 
make no difference to me. Tm sorry to say I 
cannot take you in, Mrs. Lewis : and now I 
have said all I mean to say." 

Mrs. Lewis went about the house, looking for 
Mrs. Lake, and did not find her. She, not as 
strong minded as Miss Dinah, had bolted her- 
self into the best bedroom, just then unoccupied. 
So Mrs. Lewis, not to be baffled as to the ball, 
went out to seek for other lodgings, and foupd 
them in the Foregate Street. 

" But we shall be home on Saturday," she said 
to Anne, as they were starting this second time 
for Worcester, on the Wednesday morning, the 
finery for the ball behind them in two huge 
trunks. '' I have to pay a great deal for the 
rooms, and can*t afford to stay longer than that. 
And mind that you and Sally get the house in 
order while we are away ; it's a beautiful oppor- 

Aftne. loi 

tunity to clean it thoroughly down : and get on 
as quickly as you can with the needle-work." 

** Why, my dear young lassie, I am not able 
to help you in such a thing as this. You had 
better see the master himself." 

Anne had lost no time. Leaving Sally to the 
cleaning, she dressed herself and walked over on 
the Wednesday afternoon to Bellwood,Sir Robert 
Tenby's seat. She explained her business to 
Mrs. Macbean, the old family housekeeper, and 
asked whether she could help her into any good 

" Nae, nae, child. I live down here all my 
days, and I know nothing of the gentlefolks in 
the great world. The master knows 'em all." 

" I did think once of asking if I might see Sir 
Robert ; but my courage fails me now," said 

" And why should it T returned the old lady. 
*J If there's one man more ready than another to 
do a kindness, or more sociable to speak with, 
it's Sir Robert Tenby. He takes after his 
mother for that, my late dear lady ; not after his 
father. Sir George was a bit proud. I '11 go and 
tell Sir Robert what you want." 

Sir Robert was in his favourite room ; a small 
one with a bright fire in it, its purple chairs and 
curtains bordered with gold. It was bright alto- 
gether, Anne thought as she entered; lot V^ 

I02 Johnny Ludlow. 

said he would see her. The windows looked on 
a green velvet lawn, dotted with beds of early 
flowers, and thence to the park ; and beyond all, 
to the chain of the Malvern hills, rising against 
the blue sky. The baronet sat near one of the 
windows, some books on a small table at his 
elbow. He came forward to shake hands 
with Anne, and gave her a chair opposite his 
own. And, what with his good homely face and 
its smile of welcome, and his sociable, unpretend- 
ing words, Anne felt at home at once. 

In her own quiet way, so essentially that of a 
lady in its unaffected truth, she told him what 
she wanted : to find a home in some good 
family, who would be kind to her in return for her 
services, and pay her as much as would serve to 
buy her gowns and bonnets. Sir Robert Tenby, 
no stranger to the gossip rife in the neighbour- 
hood, had heard of the unjust will, and of Anne's 
treatment by the new wife. 

** It is, I imagine, impossible for a young lady 
to get into a good family without an introduc- 
tion,'* said Anne. ** And I thought — perhaps 
— you might speak for me, sir : you do know a 
little of me. I have no one else to recommend 

He did not answer for the moment : he sat 
looking at her. Anne blushed, and went on, 
hoping she was not offending him. 

" No one else, I mean, who possesses your 
inHuence, and mixes habitually with the great 

Anne, 103 

world. I should not care to take service in an 
inferior family : my poor father would not have 
liked it" 

** Take service," said he, repeating the word. 
" It is as governess that you wish to go out ?" 

*' As nursery governess, I thought. I may 
not aspire to any better position, for I know no- 
thing of accomplishments. But little children 
need to be taught French and German ; I could 
do that." 

** You speak French well, of course ?" 

*' As a native. German also. And I think 
I speak good English, and could teach it. And 
oh, sir, if you did chance to know of any family 
who would engage me, I should be so grateful 
to you." 

" French, English, and German," said he, 
smiling. **WeIl, I can't tell what the great 
world, as you put it, may call accomplishments; 
but I think those three enough for anybody." 

Anne smiled too. ** They are only languages, 
Sir Robert. They are not music and drawing. 
Had my dear mamma suspected I should have 
to earn my own living, she would have had me 
educated for it." 

** I think it is a very hard thing that you 
should have to earn it," spoke Sir Robert. 

Anne glanced up through her wet eye-lashes: 
reminiscences of her mother always brought 
tears. ** There's no help for it, sir ; I have not 
a shilling in the world." 

I04 Johnny Ludlow, 

**And no home but one that you are ill- 
treated in — made to do the work of a servant ? 
Is it not so ?" 

Anne coloured painfully. How did he know 
this ? Generous to Mrs. Lewis in spite of all, 
she did not care to speak of it herself. 

**And if people did not think me clever 
enough to teach, sir," she went on, passing over 
his question, " I might perhaps go out to be 
useful in other ways. I can make French 
cakes and show a cook how to make nice French 
dishes ; and I can read aloud well, and do all 
kinds of needlework. Some old lady, who has no 
children of her own, might be glad to have me." 

** I think many an old lady would," said he. 
The remark put her in spirits. She grew ani- 

" Oh, do you ! I am so glad. If you should 
know of one, sir, would you please to tell her 
of me ?" 

Sir Robert nodded, and Anne rose to leave. 
He rose also. 

" If I could be so fortunate as to get into 
such a home as this, with some kind old lady 
for my friend and m^istress, I should be quite 
happy," she said in the simplicity of her heart. 
** How pleasant this room is! — and how beau- 
tiful it is outside T' — pausing to look at the 
early flowers, as she passed the window. 

*^ Do you know Bellwood ? Were you ever 
here before T 

Anne. 105 

" No, sir, never." 

Sir Robert put on his hat and went out with 
her, showing her some pretty spots about the 
grounds. Anne was enchanted, especially with 
the rocks and the cascades. Versailles, she 
thought, could not be better than Bellwood. 

" And when you hear of anything, sir, you 
will please to let me know ?" she said, in parting. 

^* Yes. You had better come again soon. 
This is Wednesday : suppose you call on 
Friday. Will you f 

" Oh, I shall be only too glad. I will be sure 
to come. Good-bye, Sir Robert : and thank 
you very, very much." 

She went home with light heels and a lighter 
heart: she had not felt so happy since her 
father died. 

" How good he is ! how kind ! a true gentle- 
man," she thought. " And what a good thing 
he fixed Friday instead of Saturday, for on 
Saturday they will be at home. But it is 
hardly possible that he will have heard of any 
place by that time, unless he has one in his eye.'* 

It was Friday afternoon before Anne could 
get to Bellwood, and rather late also. She 
asked, as before, for Mrs. Macbean, not pre- 
suming to ask direct for Sir Robert Tenby. 
Sir Robert was out, but was expected in every 
minute, and Anne waited in Mrs. Macbean's 

'* Do you think he has heard of any\.\vvtv^ lot | 

io6 Johnny Ludlow. 

me ?" was one of the first questions she 

*' Eh, my dear, and how should I know ?" 
was the old lady's reply. *' He does not tell 
me of his affairs. Not but what he talks to 
me a good deal, and always like a friend : he 
does not forget that my late leddy, his mother, 
made more of a friend of me than a servant. 
Many's the half-hour he keeps me talking in 
his parlour ; and always bids me take the easiest 
seat there. I wish he would marry !" 

** Do you ?" replied Anne, mechanically : for 
she was thinking more of her own concerns 
than Sir Robert's. 

" Why, yes, that I do. It's a lonely life for 
him at best, the one he leads. I've not scrupled 
to tell him, times and oft, that he ought to bring 

a mistress home Eh, but there he is I 

That's his step." 

As before, Anne went into the pretty room 
that Sir Robert, when alone, mostly sat in. 
Three or four opened letters lay upon the table, 
and she wondered whether they related to her. 

*^ No, I have as yet no news for you," he 
said, smiling at her eager face, and keeping her 
hand in his while he spoke. '* You will have to 
come again for it. Sit down ?" 

*' But if — if you have nothing to tell me to- 
day, I had better not take up your time," said 
Anne, not liking to appear intrusive. 

*^ My time 1 If you knew how slowly time 

Anne, 107 

some days seems to pass for me, you would 
have no scruple about * taking it up/ Sit here. 
This is a pleasant seat." 

With her eyes fixed on the outer landscape, 
Anne sat on and listened to him. He talked 
of various things, and she felt as much at her 
ease (as she told me that same evening) as 
though she had been talking with me. After- 
wards she felt half afraid she had been too open, 
for she told him all about her childhood's home 
in France and her dear mother. It was growing 
dusk when she got up to go. 

" Will you come again on Monday after- 
noon V he asked. '^ I shall be out in the morn- 

" If I can, sir. Oh yes, if I can. But Mrs. 
Lewis, who will be at home then, does not 
want me to take a situation at all, and she may 
not let me come out.'' 

^* I should come without telling her," smiled 
Sir Robert. *' Not want you to leave home, 
eh ? Would like you to stay there to make 
the puddings ? Ay, I understand. Well, I 
shall expect you on Monday. There may be 
some news, you know." 

And, somehow, Anne took up the notion 
that there would be news, his tone sounded so 
hopeful. All the way home her feet seemed to 
tread on air. 

On the Sunday evening, when they were all ^ 
sitting together at May thorn Bank, and Kivcv^W^ ^ 

io8 Johnny Ludlow. 

no particular duty on hand, she took courage to 
tell of what she had done, and that Sir Robert 
Tenby was so good as to interest himself for 
her. Mrs. Lewis was indignant ; the young 
ladies were pleasantly satirical. 

" As nursery governess : you !" mocked Miss 
Julia. ''What shall you teach your pupils ? To 
playat cats' cradle?", 

" Why, you know, Anne, you are not fit for 
a governess," said Fanny. "It would be quite 
— quite wicked of you to make believe to be one. 
You never learnt a note of music. You can't 
draw. You can't oaint." 

A. • 

** You had better go to school yourself, first," 
snapped Mrs. Lewis. ** I will not allow you to 
take any such step : so put all thought of it out 
of your head." 

Anne leaned her aching brow upon her 
hand in perplexity. Was she so unfit ? Would 
it be wicked ? She determined to put the case 
fully before her kind friend. Sir Robert Tenby, 
and ask his opinion. 

Providing that she could get to Sir Robert's. 
Ask leave to go, she dare not ; for she knew 
the answer would be a point-blank refusal. 

But fortune favoured her. Between three 
and four o'clock on Monday afternoon, Mrs. 
Lewis and her daughters dressed themselves 
and sailed away to call on some people at South 
Crabb ; which lay in just the contrary direction 
to Bell wood. They left Anne a heap of sewing 

Anne. 109 

to do : but she left the sewing and went out on 
her own score. I met her near the Ravine. 
She told me what she had done, and looked 
bright and flushed over it. 

" Mrs. Lewis is one cat, and they are two other 
cats, Anne. Tod says so. Good-bye. Good 
luck to you T 

'* Eh, my dear, and I was beginning to think 
you didna mean to come," was Mrs. Macbean's 
salutation. " But Sir Robert is nae back yet, he 
has been out on horseback since the morning ; 
and he said you were to wait for him. So just 
take your bonnet off, and you shall have a cup of 
tea with me T 

Nothing loth, Anne took off her out-of-doors 
things. " They will be home before I am, and 
find me gone out," she reflected ; " but they can't 
quite kill me for it." The old lady rang her bell 
for tea, and thought what a nice and pretty young 
gentlewoman Anne looked in her plain black 
dress with its white neck-frill, and the handsome 
jet necklace that had been her mother's. 

But before the tea could be made. Sir Robert 
Tenby's horse trotted up, and they heard him go 
to his sitting-room. Mrs. Macbean took Anne 
into his presence, saying at the same time that 
she had been about to give the young lady a cup 
of tea. 

" I should like some tea too," said Sir Robert ; 
*' Miss Lewis can take it with me. Send it in." 

It came in upon a waiter, and was pYaee^d xx^otv 

no Johnny Ludlow. 

the table. Anne, at his request, put sugar and 
cream into his cup, handed it to him, and then 
took her own. He was looking very thoughtful; 
she seemed to fancy he had no good news for 
her, as he did not speak of tt ; and her heart 
went down, down. In a very timid tone, she told 
him of the depreciating opinion held of her 
talents at home, and begged him to say what he 
thought, for she would not like to be guilty of 
undertaking any duty she was not fully com- 
petent to fulfil. 

'* Will you take some more tea ?" was all Sir 
Robert said in answer. 

*^ No, thank you, sir." 

'' Another biscuit ? No ? We will send the 
tray away then." 

Ringing the bell, a servant came in and took 
the things. Sir Robert, standing at the window 
then, and looking down at Anne as she sat, began 
to speak. 

" I think there might be more difficulty in 
getting you a situation as governess than we 
thought for : one that would be quite suitable, at 
least. Perhaps another kind of situation would do 
better for you." 

Her whole face, turned up to him with its gaze 
of expectancy, changed to sadness ; the light in 
her eyes died away. It seemed so like the knell 
of all her hopes. Sir Robert only smiled. 

*' If you could bring yourself to take it — ^and 
to Jike it/' he continued. 

Anne. 1 1 1 

*' But what situation is it, sir ?" 

'* That of my wife. That of lady of Bellwood." 

Just for a moment or two, she simply stared 
at him. -When his meaning reached her com- 
prehension, her fa&e turned red and white with 
emotion. Sir Robert took her hand and spoke 
more fully. He had learnt to like her very 
very much, to esteem her, and wished her to be 
his wife. 

*' I am aware that there is a good deal of 
difference in our ages, my dear; more than 
twenty years," he went on, while she sat in 
silence. ** But I think you might find happiness 
with me ; I will do my very best to ensure it. 
Better be my wife than a nursery governess. 
What do you say ?" 

'* Oh, sir, I do not know what to say," she 
answered, trembling a little. "It is so un- 
expected — and a great honour — ^and — and I am 

." Could you like me ?" he gently asked. 

" I do like you, sir ; very much. But this — 
this would be different. Perhaps you would 
let me take until to-morrow to think about it ?" 

*^ Of course I will. Bring me your answer 
then. Bring it yourself, whatever it may be." 

** I will, sin And I thank you very greatly." 

All night long Anne Lewis lay awake. Should 
she take this good man for her husband, or 
should she not ? She did like him very much : 
and what a position it would be (or \vet \ ^.w^ 

112 Johmiy Ludlow. 

how sheltered she would be henceforth from the 
frowns of the world ! Anne might never have 
hesitated, but for the remains of her love for 
Mr. Angerstyne. That was passing away from 
her heart day by day, as she knew ; it would 
soon have passed entirely. She could never feel 
that same love again; it was over and done 
with for ever ; but there was surely no reason 
why she should sacrifice all her future to its 
remembrance. Yes: she would accept Sir 
Robert Tenby : and would, by the help of 
Heaven, make him a true, faithful, good wife. 

It was nearly dusk the next afternoon before 
she could leave the house. Mrs. Lewis had 
kept her in sight so long that she .feared she 
might not get the opportunity that day. She 
ran all the way to Bellwood, anxious to keep 
her promise : she could not bear to seem to 
trifle, even for a moment, with this good and 
considerate man. Sir Robert was waiting for 
her in a glow of fire-light. He came forward, 
took both her hands in his, and looked into*her 
face inquiringly. - * "-• 


'^ Yes, sir, if you still wish to take me. I will 
try to be to you a loving wife ; obedient and 

With a sigh of relief, he sat down on a sofa 
that was drawn to the fire and placed her beside 
him, holding her hand still. 

** M}^ dear, I thank you : you have made 

Anne. 113 

me very happy. You shall never have cause to 
repent it" 

"It is SQ strange," she whispered, " that 
you should wait all these years, with the world 
to choose from, and then think of me at last ! I 
can scarcely believe it" 

" Ay, I suppose it is strange. But I must tell 
you something, Anne. When quite a youth, 
only one-andrtwenty, there was a young lady 
whom I dearly loved. She was poor, and not 
of much family, and my father forbade the 
union. She married some one else, and died. 
It is for the love of her I have kept single all 
these years. But I shall not make you the less 
good husband." 

" And I — I wish to tell you — that / once 
cared for some one," whispered Anne in her 
straightforward honesty. ** It is all over and 
done with ; but I did like him very much." 

** Then, my dear, we shall be even," he said, 
with a merry smile. " The one cannot reproach 
the bther. • And now — this is the beginning of 
SAprirr before the month shall have closed you 
had better come to me. We have nothing to 
wait for ; and I do not like, now that you be- 
long to me, to leave you one moment longer 
than is needful with that lady whom you are 
forced to call stepmother." 

How Anne got home that late afternoon she 
hardly knew : she knew still less how to bring 
the news out In the course of t\\e ioWomtv^ 
' Vol.' III. % 

114 Johnny Ludlow. 

morning, she tried at it, and made a bungle 
of it 

" Sir Robert not going to get you a situation 
as governess I" interrupted Julia, before Anne 
had half finished. *' Of course he is not. He 
knows you are not capable of taking one. / 
thought how much he was intending to help 
you. You must have had plenty of cheek, Anne, 
to trouble him." 

" I am going to be his wife instead," said 
poor Anne, meekly. '* He has asked me to be. 
And — and it is to be very soon ; and he is 
coming to see Mrs. Lewis this morning." 

Mrs. Lewis, sitting back in an easy-chair, her 
feet on the fender, dropped the book she was. 
reading, to stare at Anne. Julia burst into a 
laugh of incredulity. Her mother echoed it, 
and spoke : 

*' You poor infatuated girl ! This comes of 
being brought up on French soup. But Sir 
Robert Tenby has no right to play jokes upon 
you. I shall write and tell him so.*' 

" I — think — he is there," stammered Anne. 

There he was. A handsome carriage was 
drawing up to the gate, bearing the baronet's 
badge upon its panels. Sir Robert sat inside. 
A footman came up the path and thundered at 
the door. 

Not very long afterwards — it was in the. 

month of June — Anne and her husband were 

guests at a London crusVi itv Bexkde.Y Square. 

Anne. 115 

It was toa crowded to be pleasant. Anne began 
to look tired, and Sir Robert whispered to her 
that if she had had enough of it, they would 
go home. ** Very gladly," she answered, and 
turned to say good-night to her hostess. 

'* Anne ! How are you ?" 

The unexpected interruption, in a voice she 
knew quite well, and which sent a thrill through 
her, even yet, pulled Anne up in her course. 
There stood Henry Angerstyne, his hand held 
out in greeting, a confident smile, as if assuming 
she could only receive him joyfully, on his hand- 
some face. 

*^ I am so much surprised to see you here ; so 
delighted to meet you once again, Miss Lewis." 

** You mistake, sir," replied Anne, in a cold, 
proud tone, drawing her head a little up. " I 
am Lady Tenby." 

Walking forward, she put her arm within her 
husband's, who waited for her. Mr. Anger- 
styne understood it at once ; it needed not the 
almost bridal robes of white silk and lace to 
enlighten him. She was not altered. She 
looked just the same single-minded, honest- 
hearted girl as ever, with a pleasant word for 
all — save just in the moment when she had 
spoken to him. 

*^ I am glad of it : she deserves her good 
fortune," he thought heartily. With all his 
faults, few men could be more generously just 
than Henry Angerstyne. 




" JOHNNY, you will have to take the organ 

J on Sunday." 

The words gave me a surprise. I turned 
short round on the music-stool, wondering 
whether Mrs. Todhetley spoke in jest or 
earnest. But her face was quite serious, as she 
sat, her hands on her lap, and her lame finger — 
the fore-finger on the left hand — stretched out. 

" I take the organ, good mother ! What's 
that for ?'* 

" Because I was to have taken it, Johnny, and 
this accident to my finger will prevent it." 

We had just got home to Dyke Manor from 
school for the Michaelmas holidays. Not a 
week of them : for this was Wednesday after- 
noon, and we should go back the following 
Monday. Mrs. Todhetley had cut her finger 
very seriously in carving some cold beef on the 
previous day. Old Dgffham had put it into 

" Where's Mr. Richards ?" I asked, alluding 
to the church organist. 

The Key of the Church. 117 

"Well, it is rather a long tale, Johnny. A 
good deal of dissatisfaction has existed, as you 
know, between him and the congregation." 

" Through his fiercely-loud playing." 

**Just so. And now he has resigned in a 
huff. Mr. Holland called yesterday morning to 
ask if I would help them at the pinch by taking 
the organ for a Sunday or two, until matters 
were smoothed with Richards, or else some fresh 
organist found ; and I promised him I would. 
In the evening, this accident happened to my 
finger. So you must take it in my place, 

" And if I break down T 

"Not you. Why should you ?" 

" I am out of practice." 

" There's plenty of time to get up your prac- 
tice between now and Sunday. Don't make 
objections, my dear. We should all do what 
little we can to help others in a time of need." 

I said no more. As she observed, there was 
plenty of time between now and Sunday, And, 
not to lose time, I went off there and then. 

The church stood in a lonely spot, as I think 
you know, and I took the way across the fields 
to it. Whistling softly, I went along, fixing in 
liiy mind upon the chants and hymns. Ours was 
rather a primitive service. The organ reper- 
toire included only about half a score of chants 
and double that number of hymns. It had this 
advantage — that they were all famlWar to \\\e. 

ii8 Johnny Ludlow. 

congregation, who could join in the singing at 
will, and the singers had no need to practise. 
Mr. Richards had lately introduced a different 
style of music, and it was not liked. 

" Let me see : TU make it just the opposite 
of Richards*s. For the morning we will have 
the thirty-seventh psalm, * Depend on God :' 
there's real music in that ; and * Jerusalem the 
Golden.* And for the afternoon, * Abide with 
me,' and the Evening Hymn. Mornington's 

Chant ; and the Grand Chant ; and the 

Halloa, Fred ! Is it you T 

A lithe, straight-limbed young fellow was 
turning out of the little valley : on his way (as 
I guessed) from the Parsonage. It was Fred 
Westerbrook : old Westerbrook's nephew at the 
Narrow Dyke Farm — or, as we abbreviated it, 
the N. D. Farm. 

'* How are you, Johnny ?'' 

His face and voice were alike subdued as he 
shook hands. I asked after Mr. and Mrs. 

** They are both well for aught I know," he 
answered. "The N. D. Farm is no longer my 
home, Johnny." 

Had he told me the Manor was no longer 
mine, I could not have been more surprised. 

" Why, how is that, Fred T 
- " They have turned me out of it." 

** What — this morning ?" 

** This morning — no.*» Two months ago." 

The Key of the Cfiurch. 119 

** And why ? I never thought it would come 
to that." 

" Because they wanted to get rid of me, that's 
why. Gisby has been the prime mover in it — 
the chief snake in the grass. He is worse than 
she is." 

''And what are you doing ?'' 

" Nothing : except knocking aboijt. Fd be 
off to America to-morrow and try my luck there 
if I had a fifty-pound note in my pocket. I 
went up to the farm last week, and made an 
appeal to my uncle to help me to it, and be rid 
of me " 

" And would he ?'* I interrupted, too eager to 
let him finish. 

'* Would he r repeated Fred, savagely. 
" He bade me go to a place unmentionable. 
He threatened to drive me off the premises if 
ever I put foot on them again.*' 

'* I am very sorry. What shall you do T I 

'* Heaven knows ! Perhaps turn poacher." 

'* Nonsense, Fred !'* 

" /$• it nonsense !" he retorted, taking off his 
low-crowned hat and passing his hand pas- 
sionately over his wavy, auburn hair — about the 
nicest hair I ever saw. People said Fred was 
proud of it. He was a good-looking young 
fellow altogether ;^ with a clear, fresh face, and 
steady grey eyes. 

"You dont kno\^what it is lo be. goarfect^ 

I20 Johnny Ludlow. 

Johnny," he said. " I can tell you I am ripe for 
any mischief. And a man must live. But for 
one thing I swear Fd not keep straight." 

I knew what thing he meant quite well. 
** What does she say about it T I asked. 

" What can she say ? My uncle has insulted 
her to her face, and made me out at the Parson- 
age to be a downright scamp. Oh, I go in for 
all that's bad, according to him, I assure you, 
Johnny Ludlow." 

" Do you never see her ?" 

** It is chiefly by chance if I do. I have just 
been up there now, sitting for half an hour with 
her in the old study. There was no oppor- 
tunity for a private word, though ; the young 
ones were dodging around, playing at 'Salt 
Fish ' — if you know the delectable game. Good- 
bye, Johnny lad." 

He strode off with an angry fire in his eye. 
I felt very sorry for him. We all liked Fred 
Westerbrook. He had his faults, I suppose, but 
he was one of the most open-natured fellows in 
the world. 

Dashing in at Clerk Bumford's for the key of 
the church, I sat down to the organ : an anti- 
quated instrument, whose bellows were worked 
by the player s feet, as are some of the modern 
harmoniums ; but, as far as tone went, it was 
not bad — rather rich and sweet. AH through 
the practice my mind was running on Fred 
Westerbrook and his uncle. The parish had 

The Key of the Church. 121 

said long ago they would come to a blow-up 
some time. 

The N. D. Farm stood about three-quarters 
of a mile on the other side the church, beyond 
Mr. Page's. It had a good house upon it, and 
consisted of two or three hundred acres of land. 
But its owner, Mr. Westerbrook, rented a great 
deal more land that lay contiguous to it, which 
rendered it altogether one of the most consider- 
able farms round about. Up to fifty years of 
age, Mr. Westerbrook had not married. Fred, 
his dead brothei^^s son, had been adopted by 
him, and was regarded as his heir. The farm 
had been owned by the Westerbrooks for un- 
told-of years, and it was not likely a stranger in 
blood and name would be allowed to inherit it. 
So Fred had lived there as the son and heir, 
and been made much of. 

But, to the surprise of everybody, Mr. 
Westerbrook took it into his head to marry, 
although he was fifty years old. It was thought 
to be a foolish act, and the parish talked freely. 
She was a widow without children, of a grasping 
nature, and not at all nice in temper. A high- 
spirited boy of fourteen, as Fred was, would be 
hardly likely to get on with her. She interfered 
with him in the holidays, and thwarted him, and 
told sneaking tales of him to his uncle. It went 
on pretty smoothly enough, however, until Fred 
left school, which he did at eighteen, to take up 
his abode at home ior good and busy Vvrcv^^S. 

122 Johnny Ludlow. 

about the farm. Upon the death of the bailiff 
some three years later, she sent for one Gisby, 
from a distance, and got Mr. Westerbrook to 
instal him in the bailiffs vacant place. This 
Gisby was a dark little man of middle age, arid 
was said to be distantly related to her. He 
proved to be an excellent farmer and manager, 
and did his duty well ; but from the first he and 
Fred were just at daggers-drawn. Presuming 
upon his relationship to the mistress, Gisby 
treated Fred in an off-hand manner, telling him 
sometimes to do this and not to do the other, as 
he did the men. Of course, Fred did not stand 
that, and offered to pitch him into next week 
unless he kept his place better. 

But, as the years went on, the antagonism 
against Fred penetrated to Mr. "Westerbrook. 
She was always at work with her covert 
whispers, as was Gisby with his outspoken 
accusations of him, and with all sorts of tales of 
his wrong-doing. They had the ear of the 
master, and Fred could not fight against it. 
Perhaps he did not try to. Whispering, and 
meanness, and underhand doing of any kind, 
were foreign to his nature ; he was rather too 
outspoken, and he turned on his enemies freely 
and gave them plenty of abuse. It was Gisby 
who first told Mr. Westerbrook of the intimacy, 
or friendship, or whatever you may please to 
call it, though I suppose the right word would 
be lovCy between Fred and Edna Blake. Edna 

The Key of the Church. 123 

was one of a large family, and had come, a year 
or two ago, to live at the Parsonage, being niece 
to Mrs. Holland, the parson's wife. Mrs. Hol- 
land was generally ill (and frightfully incapable), 
and Edna had it all on her hands : the house- 
keeping, and the six unruly children, and the 
teaching and the mending, and often the cook- 
ing. They paid her twenty pounds a year for 
it. But she was a charming girl, with one of the 
sweetest faces ever seen and the gentlest spirit. 
Fred Westerbrook had found that out, and the 
two were deeply in love with one another. Old 
Mr. W«sterbrook went into one of his passions 
when he heard of it, and swore at Fred. Edna 
was not his equal, he told him ; Fred must look 
higher : she had no money, and her friends, as 
was reported, were but tradespeople. Fred 
retorted that Edna was a mine of wealth and 
goodness in herself, and he had never troubled 
himself to ask what her friends might be. How- 
ever, to make short of the story, matters had 
grown more unpleasant for Fred day by day, 
and this appeared to be the end of it, the turn- 
ing him out of house and home. He was just 
twenty-four now. I don't wish to imply that 
Fred was without faults, or that he did nothing 
to provoke his uncle. He had been wild the 
last year or two, and tumbled into some scrapes ; 
but the probability is that he would have kept 
straight enough under more favourable circum- 
stances. The discomfort at home drov^ \vvk\ 

124 Johnny Ludlow. 

out, and he got associating with anything but 
choice company. 

Making short work of my playing, I took the 
key back to Bumford's, and ran home. Tod 
was in the dining-room with the mother, and I 
told them of the meeting with Fred Wester- 
brook. Mrs. Todhetley seemed to know all 
about it, and said Fred had been living at the 
Silver Bear. 

" What an awful shame of old Westerbrook !" 
broke out Tod. " To turn a fellow away from 
his home V 

'* I am afraid there are faults on both sides," 
sighed Mrs. Todhetley, in her gentle way. 
** Fred has not borne a good character of 

" And who could expect him to bear a good 
one T fired Tod. " If I were turned out like a 
dog, would I care what I did ? No ! Old 
Westerbrook and that precious wife of his ought 
to be kicked. As to Gisby, the sneak, hanging 
would be too good for him." 

'' Don't, Joseph." 

'' Don'i r retorted Tod. " But I do. They 
deserve all the abuse that can be given them. I 
can see her game. , She wants Westerbrook to 
leave the property to her : that's the beginning 
and the end of it ; and to cut off poor Fred with 
a shilling." 

" Of course we are all sorry for Fred, Joseph," 
resumed the mother. ** Very sorry. I know I 

The Key of the Church. 125 

am. But he need not do reckless things, and 
lose his good name." 

** Bother his good name !" cried Tod. ** Look 
at their interference about Edna Blake. That 
news came out when we were at home at mid- 
summer. Edna is as good as they are." 

" It is a hopeless case, I fear, Joseph. Dis- 
carded by his uncle, all his prospects are at an 
end. He has been all on the wrong track lately, 
and done many a sad thing." 

" I don't care what he has done. He has 
been driven to it. And Fll stand up for him 
through thick and thin." 

Tod flung out of the room with the last words. 
It was just like him, putting himself into a way 
for nothing. It was like somebody else too — 
his father. I began telling Mrs. Todhetley of 
the chants and hymns I had thought of, asking 
her if they would do. 

" None could be better, Johnny. And I 
only wish you might play for us always." 

A fine commotion arose next morning. We 
were at breakfast, when Thomas came in to say 
old Jones, the constable, wanted to see the 
Squire immediately. Old Jones was bade to 
enter ; he appeared all on the shake, and his 
face as white as a sheet. There had been 
murder done in the night, he said. Master 
Fred Westerbrook had shot Gisby : and he had 
come to get a warrant signed for Fred's appre- 


126 Johnny Ludlow. 

'* Goodness bless me !" cried the Squire, let- 
ting fall his knife and fork, and turning to face 
old Jones. " How on earth did it happen ?" 

** Well, your worship, 'twere a poaching 
affray," returned Jones. ** Gisby the bailiff have 
had his suspicions o' the game, and he went out 
last night with a man or two, and met the fel- 
lows in the open field on this side the copse. 
There they was, in the bright moonlight, as 
bold as brass, with a bag o' game, Master Fred 
Westerbrook the foremost on 'em. A fight 
ensued — Gisby don't want for pluck, he don't, 
though he be undersized, and he attacked 
*em. Master Fred up with his gun and shot 

^' Is Gisby dead ?" 

** No, sir, but he's a-dying." 

" What a fool that Fred Westerbrook must 
be !" stormed the Squire. '* And I declare I 
liked the young fellow amazingly ! It was only 
last night, Jones, that we were talking of him 
here, taking his part against his uncle." 

** He haven't been after much good, Squire, 
since he went to live at that there Silver Bear. 
Not but what the inn's as respectable " 

" Respectable ! — I should like to know where 
you would find a more respectable inn, or one 
better conducted !" put in Tod, with scant cere- 
mony. ** What do you mean, old Jones ? A 
gentleman can take up his abode at the Silver 
Bear, and not be ashamed of it." 

The Key of the Church. 127 

" I have nothing to say again' it, sir ; nor 
against Rimmer neither. It warn*t the inn I 
was a-reflecting on, but on Master Fred him- 

** Anyway, I don't believe this tale, Jones." 

** Not believe it !" returned Jones, aghast at 
the bold assertion. **Why, young Mr. Tod- 
hetley, the whole parish is a-ringing with it. 
There's Gisby a-dying at Shepherd's — which 
was the place he were carried to, being the 
nearest ; and Shepherd himself saw young Mr. 
Fred fire off the gun." 

" What became of the rascally poachers ?" 
asked the Squire. " Who were they ?" 

"They got clean off, sir, every one on 'em. 
And they couldn't be recognised : they had 
blackened their faces. Master Fred was the 
only one who had not disguised hisself, which 
was just like his boldness. They left the game 
behind 'em, your worship : a nice lot o' pheasants 
and partridges. Pheasants too, the miscreants ! 
— and October not in." 

There was not much more breakfast for us. Tod 
rushed off", and I after him. As Jones had said, 
the whole parish was ringing with the news, and 
we found people standing about in groups to 
talk. The particulars appeared to be as old 
Jones had related. Gisby, taking Shepherd — 
who was the herdsman on the N. D. Farm — 
with him, and another man named Ford, had 
gone out to watch for poachers ; had met \v2\l ^ 

128 Johnny Ludlow. 

dozen of them, including Fred Westerbrook, and 
Fred had shot Gisby. 

The Silver Bear stood in the middle of 
Church Dykely, next door to Perkins the 
butcher's. It was kept by Henry Rimmer. 
We made for it, wondering whether Rimmer 
could tell us anything. He was in the tap- 
room, polishing the taps. 

** Oh, it's true enough, young gentlemen !" he 
said, as we burst in upon him with questions. 
**And a dreadful thing it is. One can't help 
pitying young Mr. Westerbrook.*' 

** Look here, Rimmer : do you believe he 
did it ?" 

**Why, in course he did. Master Johnny. 
There was no difficulty in knowing him : he 
was the only one of 'em not disguised. Shepherd 
says the night was as light as day. Gisby and 
him and Ford all saw young Mr. Westerbrook, 
and knew him as soon as the lot came in sight." 

** Was he at home here last evening T asked 

'* He was at home here, sir, till after supper. 
He had been out in the afternoon, and came in 
to his tea between five and six. Then he 
stayed in till supper-time, and went out after- 

'' Did he come in later ?" 

** No, never," replied Rimmer, lowering his 
voice, as a man sometimes does when speaking 
very seriously. *' He never came in again." 

The Key of the Church. 129 

" They say Gisby can't recover. Is that true, 
or not ?" 

" It is thought he'll not live through the day, 

"And where can Westerbrook be hiding 

** He's safe inside the hut of one or other of 
the poachers, I should say," nodded the land- 
lord. ** Not that that would be safe for him or 
for them, if it could be found out who the villains 
were. I think I could give a guess at two or 
three of them." 

"So could I," said Tod. "Dick Standish 
was one, I know. And Jelf another. Of 
course, their haunts will be searched. Don't 
you think, Rimmer, Mr. Fred Westerbrook 
would rather make off, than run the risk of con- 
cealing himself in any one of them ?" 

Rimmer shook his head. " I don't know 
about that, sir. He might not be able to make 
off. It's thought he was wounded." 

" Wounded !" 

" Gisby fired his own gun in the act of falling, 
and Shepherd thinks the charge hit young Mr. 
Westerbrook, The poachers were running off 
then, and Shepherd saw them halt in a kind of 
heap like, and he is positive that the one on the 
ground was Mr. Westerbrook. For that reason, 
sir, I should say the chances are he is some- 
where in the neighbourhood." 

Of course it looked like it, StroWm^ ^w^^J 

VOL. III. o 

130 Johnny Ludlow. 

to pick up anything else that people might be 
saying, we gave Fred our best wishes for his 
escape — in spite of the shot — and for effectually 
dodging old Jones and the rest of the Philistines, 
Tod made no secret of his sentiments. 

** It's a thing that might have happened to 
you or to me, you see, Johnny, were we turned 
out of doors and driven to bay as Fred has 

By the afternoon, great staring hand-bills were 
posted about, written in enormous text-hand, 
offering a reward of ;^20 for the apprehension 
of Frederick Westerbrook. When old Wester- 
brook was incensed, he went in for the whole 
thing, and no mistake. 

What with the bustle the place was in, and 
the excitement of the chase — for all the hedges 
and ditches, the barns and the suspected dwell- 
ings were being looked up by old Jones and a 
zealous crowd, anxious for the reward — it was 
not until after dinner in the evening that I got 
away to practice. Going along, I met Duffham, 
and asked after Gisby. 

" I am on my way to Shepherd's now," he 
answered. ** I suppose he is still alive, as they 
have not sent me word to the contrary." 

" Is he sure to die, Mr. Duffham T 

" I fear so, Johnny. I don't see much chance 
of saving him." 

"What a dreadful thing for Fred Wester- 
brook / They may bring it itv wilful murder." 

The . Key of the Church. 131 

" That they will be sure to do. Good-even- 
ing, lad ; I have no time to linger with you." 

Bumford was probably looking out for the 
fugitive (and the reward) on his own score, as 
he was not to be seen ; but I found the key in- 
side the knife-box on the kitchen dresser, his 
store-place for it, opened the door, and went 
into the church. 

On one side the church-door, as you entered, 
was an enclosed place underneath the belfry, 
that did for the vestry and for Clerk Bumford's 
den. He kept his store of candles in it, his 
gravedigging tools (for he was sexton as well as 
clerk), his Sunday black gown, and other choice 
articles. On the other side of the door, not en- 
closed, was the nook that contained the organ. 
I sat down at once. But I had come too late ; 
for in half an hour's time, the notes of the music 
and the keys were alike dim. Just then Bum- 
ford entered. 

*' Oh, you be here, be you !" said he, treating 
me, as he did the rest of the world, with scant 
ceremony. " I thought I heered the organ 
^-going, so I come on to see." 

"You were not indoors, Bumford, when I 
called for the key." 

" I were only in the field at the back, a-get- 
ting up some dandelion roots," returned old 
Bumford, in his usual resentful tone. " There 
ain't no obligation in me to be shut in at home 

132 Johnny Ludlow. 

** Who said there was ?" 

** Ain't it a'most too dark for you ?" 

" Yes, I shall have to borrow one of your 

Bumford grunted at this. The candles were 
not strictly his ; they were paid for by the parish ; 
but he set great store by them, and would have 
denied me one if he could. Not seeing his way 
clear to do this, he turned away, muttering to 
himself I took my fingers off the keys — for I 
had been playing while I talked to him — and 
followed. Bumford went out of the church, 
shutting the door with a bang, and I proceeded 
to search for the candlestick. 

That was soon found : it always stood on the 
shelf; but it had no candle in it, and I opened 
the candle-box to take one out. All the light 
that came in was from the open slits in the 
belfry above. The next thing was to find the 

Groping about quietly with my hands on the 
shelf, for fear of knocking down some article or 
another, and wondering where on earth the 
match-box had gone to, I was interrupted by a 
groan. A loud, dismal groan, coming from the 
middle of the church. 

It nearly made me start out of my skin. My 
shirt-sleeves went damp. Down with us, the 
ghosts of the buried dead are popularly supposed 
to haunt the churches at night. 

'*lt must have been the pulpit creaking," 

The Key of the Church. 133 

said I, gravely to myself. "Oh, here*s the 
match ^' 

An awful groan! Another! Three groans 
altogether I I stood as still as death ; calling up 
the recollection that God was with me inside 
the church as well as out of it. Frightened I 
was, and it is of no use to deny it. 

" I wonder what the devil is to be the ending 
of this !" 

The unorthodox words burst upon my ears, 
bringing a reassurance, for dead people don't 
talk, let alone their natural objection (as one 
must suppose) to mention the arch-enemy. The 

tones were free and distinct ; and 1 knew 

them for Fred Westerbrook's. 

" Fred, is that you T I asked in a half whisper, 
as I went forward. 

No sound ; no answer. 

"Fred! it's only I." 

Not a word or a breath. I struck a match, 
and lighted a candle. 

" You need not be afraid, Fred. Come along. 
1 11 do anything I can for you. Don't you know 
me i* — ^Johnny Ludlow." 

" For the love of heaven, put that light out, 
Johnny !" he said, feeling it perhaps useless to 
hold out, or else deciding to trust me, as he 
came down the aisle in a stooping position, so 
that the pews might hide him from the windows. 
And I put it out. 

" I thought you had gone out of the church 

134 Johnny Ludlow. 

with old Bumford," said he. " I heard you both 
come away from the organ, and then the door 
was banged, leaving the church to silence." 

" I was searching after the candle and matches. 
When did you come here, Fred ? How did you 
get in ?" 

** I got in last night. Is there much of a row, 
Johnny ?" 

** Pretty well. How came you to do it ?" 

'* To do what T 

** Shoot Gisby." 

** It was not I that shot him." 

"Not you!" 

** Certainly not." 

** But — people are saying it was you. You 
were with the poachers." 

** I was with the poachers ; and one of thfem, 
like the confounded idiot that he was, pointed 
his gun, and fired it. I recognised the cry of 
pain for Gisby's, and knew that the charge must 
have struck him. I never had a gun in my 
hand at all, Johnny." 

Well, I felt thankful for that. We sat down 
on the bench, and Fred told his tale. 

After supper the previous night, he strolled 
out and met some fellow he knew, who lived 
two or three miles away. (A black sheep in the 
public estimation, like himself) It was a 
beautiful night. Fred chose to see him home, 
and stayed there, drinking a glass or two, till he 
knew not what hour. Coming . back across the 

The Key of the Church. 135 

fields, he fell in with the poachers. Instead of 
denouncing them, he told them half in joke, half 
in earnest, that he might be joining their band 
himself before the winter was over. Close upon 
that, they fell in with the watchers, Gisby and 
the rest. Fred knew he was recognised, for 
Gisby called out his name ; and, that, Fred did 
not like : it made things look black against him. 
Gisby attacked them ; a scuffle ensued, and one 
of the poachers used his gun. Then the 
poachers turned to run, Fred with them ; a shot 
was fired after them and hit one of their body — - 
but not Fred, as Rimmer had supposed. The 
man tripped as the shot struck him, and caused 
Fred to trip and fall ; but both were up, and off, 
the next moment. Where the rest escaped to, 
Fred did not know ; chance led him past the 
church : on the spur of the moment he entered 
it for refuge, and had been there ever since. 

** And it is a great and good thing you did 
enter it, Fred," I said eagerly. ** Gisby swears 
it was you that shot him, and he is dying ; and 
Shepherd swears it too." 

** Gisby dying ?" 

" He is. I met Duffham as I came here ; he 
told me there was little, if any, chance of his 
life : he* had been expecting news of his death 
all the afternoon. They have posted hand- 
bills up, offering a reward of ;^20 for your 
apprehension, Fred ; and — and I am afraid, and 
so is Duffham, that they will try you for wilful 


136 Johnny Ludlow. 

murder. The whole neighbourhood is being 
searched for you for miles round." 

" Pleasant !" said Fred, after a brief silence. 
" I had meant to go out to-night and endeavour 
to ascertain how the land lay. Of course I 
knew that what could be put upon my back 
would be put ; and there's no denying that I 
was with the poachers. But I did not think 
matters would be as bad as this. Hang it all T 

" But, Fred, how did you get in here T 

" Well," said he, " we hear talk of providential 
occurrences : there's nothing Mr. Holland is 
fonder of telling us about in his sermons than 
the guiding finger of God. If the means that 
enabled me to take refuge here were not provi- 
dential, Johnny, I must say they looked like it. 
When I met you yesterday afternoon, you must 
remember my chancing to say that the little 
Hollands were playing at 'Salt Fish' in the 
study, while I sat there, talking to Edna T 

Of course I remembered it. Does the reader 
know the game ? I have played at it scores of 
times when a little fellow. One of a group of 
children hides some small article, while the rest 
go outside the door. When the hiding is accom- 
plished, he flings open the door, and calls out 
*' Salt Fish, very well buttered." They come in 
to search. When near the hiding-place, the 
hider says, "You burn, you bum!" and when 
far away from it, " You are cold, you are cold !" 

The Key of the Church. 137 

and whichever of them finds the article is the 
one to hide it next. 

" Directly after I left you, Johnny," resumed 
Fred Westerbrook, " I put my hand in my tail- 
coat pocket for my handkerchief, and found a 
large key there. It was the key of the church, 
that the children had been hiding at their play ; 
cind I understood in a moment that Charley, 
whose turn it was to hide last, had made a 
hiding-place of my pocket. The parson keepsone 
key, you know, and Bumford the other ^" 

*' But, Fred," I interrupted, the question 
striking me, " how came the young ones to let 
you come away with it ?" 

" Because, lad, their attention got diverted to 
something else. Ann brought in the tea-things, 
with a huge plate of bread and treacle : they 
screamed out in delight, and scuffled to get seats 
round the table. Well, I let the key lie in my 
pocket," went on Fred, ''intending to take it 
back to-day* In the night, when flying from 
pursuit, not knowing who, or how many, might 
be after me, I felt this heavy key strike against 
me continually ; and, in nearing the church, the 
thought flashed over me like an inspiration : 
What if I open it and hide myself there ? Just 
^ young Charley had hidden the key in my 
pocket, so I hid myself, by its means, in the 

Taking a minute to think over what he said, 
it did seem strange. One of those curious 

138 Johnny Ludlow. 

things one can hardly account for ; the means 
for his preservation were so simply natural and 
yet almost marvellous. Perhaps the church 
was the only building where he could have 
found secure refuge. Private dwellings would 
refuse to shelter him, and other places were sure 
to be searched. 

" You are safe here, Fred. Nobody would 
ever think of seeking you here." 

'' Safe, yes ; but for how long ? I can*t live 
without food for ever, Johnny. As it is, I have 
eaten none since last night." 

My goodness! A shock of remorse came 
over me. When I was at old Bumford's knife- 


box, a loaf of bread stood on the dresser. If I 
had but secured it ! 

" We must manage to bring you something, 
Fred. You cannot stir from here." 

Fred had taken the key out, having returned 
it to his pocket in the night when he locked 
himself in. He sat looking at it as he balanced 
it on his finger. 

** Yes, you have served me in good need," he 
said to the key. " I shall turn out for a stroll 
during some quiet hour of the night, Johnny- 
To keep my restless legs curbed indoors for a 
whole day and night would be quite beyond 
their philosophy." 

" Well, take care of yourself if you do* 
There's not a soul in the place but is all agape 
for the reward ; and I dare say they will look for 

The Key of the Church. 139 

you by night more than by day. How about 
getting you in something to eat ?*' 

** / don't know," he answered. ** It would 
never do for you to be seen coming in here at 

I knew that. Old Bumford would be down 
on me if nobody else was. I sat turning over 
possibilities in my mind. 

** I will come in betimes to-morrow morning 
under the plea of practising, Fred, and bring 
what I can. You must do battle with your 
hunger until then." 

" I suppose I must, Johnny. Mind you lock 
the door when you come in, or old Bumford 
might pounce upon us. When I heard you 
unlock it on coming in this evening, I can tell 
you I shivered in my shoes. Fate is very hard," 
he added, after a pause. 

*' Fate is r 

** Why, yes. I have been a bit wild lately^ 
perhaps, savage too, but I declare before 
Heaven that I have committed no crime, and 
did not mean to commit any. And now, to have 
this serious thing fastened upon my back ! The 
world will say I have gone straight over to 

I did not see how he would get it off his back 
either. Wishing him good-night and a good 
heart, I turned to go. 

" Wait a moment, Johnny. Let me go back 
to my hiding-place .first." 

^40 Johnny Ludlow. 

He went swiftly up the aisle, lighter now than 
it had been, for the moonlight was streaming in 
at the windows. Locking the church safely, I 
crossed the graveyard to old Bumford's, He 
was seated at his round table at supper : bread 
and cheese, and beer. 

** Oh, Mr. Bumford, as I have to come into 
the church very early in the morning, or I shall 
never get my music up for Sunday, I will take 
the key home with me. Good-night." 

He shouted out fifteen denials : How dared I 
think o' taking the key out of his custody ! But 
I was conveniently deaf, rushed off, and left 
him shouting. 

** What a long practice you have been taking, 
Johnny V cried Mrs. Todhetley. " And how 
hot you look. You must have run very fast," 

The Squire turned round from his arm-chair. 
''You've been joining in the hunt after that 
scamp, Mr. Johnny; — you've not been in the 
church, sir, all this while. I hear there's a fine 
pack out, scouring the hedges and the ditches." 

** I got a candle from old . Bumford's den," 
said I, evasively. And presently I contrived 
to whisper unseen to Tod — who sat reading — 
to come outside. Standing against the wall of 
the pigeon-house, I told him all. For once in 
his life Tod was astonished. 

"What a stunning thing!" he exclaimed. 
*' Good luck, Fred ! well help you. I knew 
he was innocent, Johnny. Food } Yes, of 

TJie Key of the Church. 141 

course; we must get it for him. Molly, you 
say ? Molly be shot !" 

" Well, you know what Molly is, Tod. Let 
half a grain of suspicion arise, and it might 
betray him. If she saw us rifling her larder, 
she would go straight to the Squire ; and what 
excuse should we have ?" 

" Look here, Johnny. TU go out fishing to- 
morrow, you understand, and order her to make 
a lot of meat pasties." ' 

"But he must have something to eat to- 
morrow morning, Tod : he might die of hunger, 
else, before night." 

Tod nodded. He had little more diplomacy 
than the Squire, and would have liked to perch 
himself upon the highest pillar in the parish 
there and then, and proclaim Fred Wester^ 
brook's innocence. 

We stole round to the kitchen. The supper 
was over, but the servants were still at the table ; 
no chance of getting to the larder then. Molly 
was in one of her tempers, apparently blowing 
up Thomas. There might be more chance in 
the morning. 

Morning light. Tod went downstairs - with 
the dawn, and I followed him. Not a servant 
was yet astir. He laid hold of a great tray, 
lodged it on the larder-floor, and began putting 
some things upon it — a cold leg of mutton and a 
big round loaf. 

142 Johnny Ludlow. 

" I can't take in all that, Tod. It isdaylighty 
you know, and eyes may be about : old Bum- 
ford's are sure to be. I can only take in what 
•can be concealed in my pockets." 

" Oh, bother, Johnny ! You'd half famish 

** Better half famish him than betray him. 
Some slices of bread and meat will be the best 
— thick sandwiches, you know." 

We soon cut into the mutton and the bread. 
Wrapping them in paper, I stowed the thick 
slices away in my pockets, leaving the rest of 
the loaf and meat on the shelves again. 

" How I wish I could smuggle him in a bottle 
of beer !" 

"And so you can, Johnny. Swear to old 
Bumford it is for your own drinking." 

*' He would know better." 

" Wrap a sheet of music round the bottle, 
then. He could make nothing of that." 

Hunting out a bottle, we went down to the 
cellar. Tod stooped to; fill it from the tap. I 
stood watching the process. 

"I've caught you, Master Johnny, have I ! 
What be you about there, letting the ale run, 
I'd like to know ?" 

The screamed-out words were Molly's. She 
had come down and found us out : suspecting 
something, I suppose, from seeing the cellar- 
door open. Tod rose up. 

'' 1 am drawing some beer to take out with 

The Key of the Church. 143 

me. Is It any business of yours ? When it is, 
you may interfere." 

I was nobody in the household — never turn- 
ing upon them. She'd have gone on at me for 
an hour, and probably walked off with the been 
Tod was altogether different. He held his own 
authority, even with Molly. She went up the 
cellar-stairs, grumbling to herself. 

" I want a cork for this bottle," said bold 
Tod, following her. And Molly, opening some 
receptacle of hers with a jerk, perforce found 
him one. 

" Oh, and I shall want some meat pasties 
made to-day, for I think of going fishing," went 
on Tod. " Let them be ready by lunch-time. 
I have cut myself some slices of meat to go on 
with — if you chance to miss any mutton." 

Molly, never answering, left her kitchen- 
grate, where she was beginning to crack up the 
huge flat piece of coal that the fire had been 
raked with the previous night, and stalked into 
the larder to see what depredations had been 
done. We tied up the bottle in paper on 
the parlour-table, and then wrapped it in a 
sheet of loose music. It looked a pretty thick 
roll ; but nobody would be likely to remark 

" I have a great mind to go with you and see 
him, Johnny," said Tod, as we went together 
down the garden path. 

** Oh, don't. Tod /" I cried. " ¥ot ^oo^tv^^i 

144 Johnny Lvdlow. 

sake, don't. You know you never do go in 
with me, and it might cause old Bumford to 

'• Then, TU leave it till after dark to-night, 
Johnny. Go in then, I shall." 

Bumford was astir, but not down yet. I 
heard him coughing, through his open casement 
window ; for I went with a purpose round the 
path by his house, and called out to him. He 
looked out in his shirt-sleeves and a cotton 

** You see how early I am this morning, I'U 
bring you the key when I leave." 

" Eugh !" growled Bumford. "No rights to 
ha' took it." 

Locking the church-door securely after me, I 
went along the aisle, calling softly to Fred. He 
came forward from a dark, high-walled pew be- 
hind a pillar, where he had slept. You should 
have seen him devour the bread and meat, if 
you'd like to know what hunger means, and 
drink out of the bottle of beer. I sat down to 
practise. Had old Bumford not heard the sound 
of the organ, he might have come thundering at 
the door to know what I was about, and what 
the silence meant. Fred came with me, and wq 
talked while I played. About the first question 
he asked was whether Gisby was dead ; but I 
could not tell him. He said he had gone out 
cautiously in the night and walked about the 
churchyard for an hour, thinking over what he 

The Key of the Church. 145 

could do. "And I really had an unpleasant 
adventure, Johnny," he added. 

" What was it ?" 

" I was pacing the path under the hedge to- 
wards Bumford's, when all at once there arose 
the sound of voices and steps on the other side 
of it — fellows on the look-out for me, I suppose." 

I held my breath. " What did you do ?" 

" Crouched down as well as I could — fortu- 
nately the hedge is high — and came softly and 
swiftly over the grass and the graves to the 
porch. I only slipped inside just in time, 
Johnny : before I could close the door, the men 
were in the churchyard. The key has a trick 
of creaking harshly when turned in the lock, you 
know ; and I declare I thought they must have 
heard it then, for it made a fearful noise, and 
the night was very still !" 

" And they did not hear it ?" 

'* I suppose not. But it was some minutes, I 
can tell you, before my pulses calmed down to 
their ordinary rate of beating." 

He went on to say that the only plan he could 
think of was to endeavour to get away from the 
neighbourhood, and go out of the country. To 
stand his trial was not to be thought of. His 
word, that he had not been the guilty man, had 
never even had a gun in his hand that night, 
would go for nothing, against Gisby's word and 
Shepherd's. Whatever came of it, he would 
have to be out of the church befote Svsxv^'a.^j • 

VOL. III. 10 

146 Johnny Ludlow. 

The great question was : how could he get away 
unseen ? I told him Tod was coming with me 
at night, and we would consult together. Lock- 
ing up the church again, and the prisoner in it, 
I gladdened Bumford's heart by handing over 
the key, and ran home to breakfast. 

Life yet lingered in Gisby ; but the doctors 
thought he could not live through the day. 
The injury he had received was chiefly internal, 
somewhere in the region of the lungs. Fresh 
parties Went out with fresh ardour to scour the 
country after Fred Westerbrook ; and so the 
day passed. Chancing to meet Shepherd late 
in the afternoon, he told me Gisby still lived. 

At sundown I went in to practise again, and 
took a big mould-candle with me, showing it to 
Bumford, that he might not be uneasy on the 
score of his stock in the vestry. As soon as 
dusk came on, and before the tell-tale moon was 
much up, I left the organ, opened the church- 
door, and stood at it, according to the plan con- 
certed with Tod. He came swiftly up with his 
basket of provisions, which he had got together 
by degrees during the day ; and then we locked 
the door again. After Fred had regaled him- 
self, we consulted together. Fred was to steal 
out of the church about one o'clock on Sunday 
morning, and make off across the country. But 
to do this with safety it was necessary he should 
be disguised. By that time the ardour of the 
iiig-ht-searching might have somewhat passed ; 

The Key of the Church. 147 

and the hour, one o'clock in the morning, was 
as silent and lonely a one as could be expected. 
It was most essential that he should not be 
recognised by any person who might chance to 
meet him. 

" But you must manage one thing for me," 
said Fred, after this was settled. " I will not 
go away without seeing Edna. She can come 
in here with you to-morrow night." 

We both objected. "It will be very hazard- 
ous, Fred. Old Bumford would be sure to see 
her : his eyes are everywhere." 

"Tell him you want her to sing over the 
chants with you, Johnny. Tell him anything. 
But, go away for an indefinite period, without 
first seeing her and convincing her that it is not 
guilt that sends me, I will not." 

So there was no more to be said. 

The getting provisions together seemed to 
have been easy, compared with what we should 
have to get up now — a disguise. A smock- 
frock, say, and the other items of a day-labourer s 
apparel. But it was more easy to decide than 
to procure them. 

" Mack leaves belongings of his in the barn 
occasionally," said Tod to me, as we walked 
home together. "We'll look to-morrow night." 

It was our best hope. Failing that, there 
would be no possibility of getting a smock-frock 
anywhere ; and Fred would have to escape in 
his coat turned inside out, or somethltv^ cA >i\^\- 1 

10 — a 

148 Johnny Ludlow. 

His own trousers, hitched up high, and plastered 
with mud at the feet, would do very well, and 
his own wideawake hat, pulled low down on his 
face. There would be no more trouble about 
provisions, for what Tod had taken in would be 

Saturday. And Tod and I with our work 
before us. Gisby was sinking fast. 

Late in the afternoon I went to the Parsonage, 
wondering how I should get to see Edna Blake 
alone. But Fortune favoured me — as it seemed 
to have favoured us throughout. The children 
were all at play in the nearest field. Edna was 
in what they called the schoolroom in her lilac 
print dress, looking over socks and stockings, 
about a wheelbarrow full. I saw her through 
the window, and went straight in. Her large 
dark eyes looked as sad and big as the hole she 
was darning ; and her voice had a hopeless ring 
in it. 

"Oh, Johnny, how you startled me! Nay, 
don't apologise. It is my fault for being so 
nervous and foolish. I can't think what has 
ailed me the last few days : I seem to start at 
shadows. Have — have you come to tell me 
anything ?" 

By the shrinking voice and manner, I knew 
what she feared — that Fred Westerbrook was 
taken. Looking round the room, I asked 
whethtr what we said could be heard. 

The Key of the Church. 149 

"There's nobody to hear," she answered. 
" Poor Mrs. Holland is in bed. Mr. Holland 
is out; and Ann is shut up, cleaning the kitchen." 

"Well, then," I said, dropping my voice, " I 
have brought you a message from Fred Wester- 

Down went the socks in a heap. "Oh, 
Johnny !" 

" Hush ! No : he is not taken ; he is in safe 
hiding. What s more, Edna, he is no more 
guilty than I am. He met the poachers acci- 
dentally that night just before the affray, and 
he never had a gun in his hands at all." 

A prolonged, sobbing sigh, as if she were 
going to choke, and then a glad light in her 
ieyes. She took up her work again. I went 
over to the seat next her, and told her all. She 
was darning all the while. With such a heap 
of mending the fingers must not be idle. 

" To America !" she repeated, in answer to 
what I said. "What is he going to do for 
money to carry him thither T 

"He talks of working his passage over. He 
has enough money about him, he says, to take 
him to the coast. Unfortunately, neither Tod 
nor I can help him in that respect. We have 
brought empty pockets from school, and shall 
get no money before the time of going back 
again. Will you go in and see him, Edna T 

" Yes," she said, after a minute's consideration. 
" And I will bring a roll of music viv iwj V^-aocA^ 

150 Johnny Ludlow. 

as you suggest, Johnny, for the satisfaction of 
Clerk Bumford s curiosity. I will be at the 
stile as near eight o'clock as I can, if you will 
come out there to meet me : but it is Saturday 
night, you know, when there's always a great 
deal to do." 

The dinner was made later than usual that 
night at home : it had struck half-past seven 
before we got out, having secured another bottle 
of beer. The moon was rising behind the trees 
as we went into the barn. 

Tod struck a match, and we looked about. 
Yes, Fortune was with us still. Hanging on 
the shaft of the cart, was Mack's smock-frock. 
It was anything but clean ; but beggars can't be 
choosers. Next we descried a cotton neckerchief 
and a pair of boots ; two clumsy,- clodhopping 
boots, with nails in the thick soles, and the out- 
side leather not to be seen for patches. 

** They must do," said Tod, with a rueful 
look. ** But just look at the wretches, Johnny. 
I must smuggle these and the smock-frock into 
the church-porch, while you go round to old B.'s 
for the key." 

** I have the key. I flung him a shilling this 
morning instead of the key, saying I might be 
wanting to practise at any hour to-day, and 
would give it him back to-night." 

Going by the most solitary way, I let Tod 
into the chjarch, and went to meet Edna Blake. 
She was already there, the roll of music in her 

The Key of the Church. 151 

hand. Bumford shot out of his house, and 
crossed our path. 

** Good-evening, Mr. Bumford!" said she, 
cheerily. ** I am come to try the hymns for 
to-morrow, with Johnny Ludlow." 

** They'd need to be sum'at extra, they had, 
with all this here fuss o' practising," returned 
Bumford, ungraciously. ** Be the parson at 
home. Miss Blake T' 

" Yes. He is in the little room, writing." 

** 'Cause I want to see him," said the clerk ; 
and he stalked off. 

** Do you know how Gisbyisi^" Edna asked 
me in a whisper. 

" Dead by this time, I dare say. But I have 
not heard." 

They were at the top of the church when we 
got in, laughing in covert tones : I guessed it 
was over those dreadful boots. Edna stood by 
me while I locked the door, and then we went 
at once to the organ and began the hymn. Old 
Bumford could not be too far off yet to catch 
the sounds. Presently, Fred Westerbrook and 
Edna went into the aisle, and paced it arm in 
arm. I kept on playing; Tod, not knowing 
what to do with himself, whistled an accompani- 

** How long shall I be away, Edna!" ex- 
claimed Fred, in answer to her question. 
'* Why, how can I tell ? It may be for years ; 
it may be for ever. I cannot come back^ I ^ 

152 Johnny Ludlow. 

suppose, while this thing is hanging over my^ 

She was in very low spirits, and the tears 
began to drop from her eyes. Fred could see 
that much, as they paced through one of the 
patches of moonlight. 

" You may not succeed in getting away." 
" No, I may not. And do you know, Edna,, 
there are moments when I feel half inclined not 
to attempt it, but to give myself up instead, and 
let the matter take its course. If I do get 
away, and get on in the States, so as to make 
myself a home, will you come out and share it 
with me ?" 

" Yes," she answered. 

" I may do it. I think I shall. Few people 
know more about the cultivation of land than I 
do, and I will take care to put my shoulder to 
the wheel. Practical farmers get on well there 
if they choose, though they have to rough it at 
first. Be you very sure of one thing, Edna: 
all my hopes and aims will be directed to the 
one end — ^that of making a home for you." 

She could not speak for crying. 

"It may not be a luxurious home, neither 
may I make anything of a position. But if I 
get enough for comfort, you will come out to it T 

" I will," she said with a great sob. 

" My darling !" 

Echo bore the words to us, softly though they 

The Key of the Church. 153 

were spoken. I played a crashing chord or 
two, after the manner of Richards. 

" You may not hear from me," continued 
Fred. " I must not give any clue to where I 
am, and therefore cannot write — at least, not at 
present. Men accused of murder can be fetched 
home from any part of the world. Only trust 
me, Edna. Trust me ! though it be for years." 

No fear but she would. She put a small 
packet in his hand. 

" You must take it, Frederick. It is my last 
half year s salary — ten pounds — -and I chance to 
have it by me : a loan, if you will ; but take it 
you shall. Knowing that you have a few pounds 
to help you away and to fall back upon, will 
make things a little less miserable for me." 

" But, Edna " 

*' I declare I will throw it away if you do not 
take it," she returned, warmly. " Do not be 
cruel to me, Frederick. If you knew how 
it will lighten my doubts and fears, you would 
not for a moment hesitate." 

"Be it so, Edna. It will help me onwards. 
Truth to say, I did not see how I should have 
got along, even to the coast, unless I had 
begged on my way. It is a loan, Edna, and I 
will contrive to repay it as soon as may be." 

So his boast of having money to take him to 
the coast had been all a sham. Poor Fred ! 
They began to take leave of one another, Edna 

154 Johnny Ludlow. 

sobbing bitterly. I plunged into the " H allelujah 

Tod let her out, and watched her safely 
across the churchyard. Then we locked the 
door again for the dressing-up, I playing a 
fugue between whiles. The first operation was 
that of cutting his hair short, for which we had 
brought the Mater s big scissors. No labourer 
would be likely to possess Fred*s beautiful hair, 
or wear it so long. Tod did it well ; not count- 
ing a few notches, and leaving him as good as 
none on his head. 

It was impossible to help laughing when we 
took a final look at him in the rays of the moon, 
Fred turning himself about to be inspected : 
his hair, clipped nearly to the roots, suggesting 
a suspicion that he had just come out of prison ; 
his trousers, not reaching to the ankle, showing 
off the heavy, patched, disreputable boots ; the 
smock-frock ; and Mack*s spotted cotton necker- 
chief muffled round his chin ! 

"Your own mother wouldn't know you, 

" What a figure I shall cut if I am dropped 
upon, and brought back !'' 

**Take heart, man!" cried Tod. "Resolve 
to get off, and you will get ofif." 

" Yes, Fred, I think you will. You have 
been so helped hitherto, that I think you will be 
helped still." 

" Thank you, Johnny. Thank you both. I 

The Key of the Church. 155 

W// take heart. And if I live to return, I hope 
I shall thank you better." 

Later we dared not stay ; it was past nine 
now. I bade Fred good-bye, and God-speed. 

" Between half-past twelve and one, mind, 
will be your time ; you'll hear the clock strike,'* 
was Tod's parting injunction, given in a whisper. 
** Good luck to you, old fellow ! I hope and 
trust you'll dodge the enemy. And as soon as 
you are clear of the churchyard, make off as if 
the dickens were behind you." 

" Here's the key, Mr. Bumford," I said, 
while Tod stole off with his bundle the other 
way, Fred's boots, and hair, and that. ** You'll 
not be bothered for it next week, for I shall be 
off to school again." 

" Thought you'd took up your lodging inside 
for the night," grunted Bumford. " Strikes me. 
Master Ludlow, it's more play nor work with you." 

" As it is with a good many of us, Bumford. 
Good-night !" 

We walked home in the moonlight, silent 
enough, Tod handing me the bundles to carry. 
The Squire attacked us, demanding whether we 
had stayed out to look at the moon. 

And I tossed and turned on my restless bed 
till the morning hours, thinking of poor Fred 
Westerbrook, and of whether he would get 
away. When sleep at last came, it brought me 
a very vivid dream of him. I thought he did 
not get away : he was unable to utvlock \.\\e. 

156 Johnny Ludlow. 

church-door. Whether Todd and I had double- 
locked it in leaving, I knew not ; but Fred could 
not get it open. When Clerk Bumford entered 
the church in the morning, and the early comers 
of the congregation with him, there stood Fred, 
hopelessly waiting to be taken. I saw him as 
plainly in my dream as I had ever seen him in 
reality : with the dirty smock-frock, and the 
patched boots, and the clipped hair. Shepherd, 
who seemed to follow me in, darted forward 
and seized him ; and in the confusion I awoke. 
Just for a minute I thought it was true — a scene 
actually enacted. Would it prove so ? 



"A70U have gone and done a fine thing, 

X Master Johnny Ludlow !" 

The salutation came from Clerk Bumford. 
He was standing at the church-door on Sunday 
morning, looking out as if he expected me, his 
face pale and stern. I had run on betimes : in 
fact, before the bell began. 

" What have I done, Bumford ?' 

** Why, you just went and left this here church 
open last night ! You never locked it up ! When 
I come in but now, I found the door right on 
the latch ; never as much as shut 1" 

Beginning to protest till all was blue that I 
Aad shut and locked the door — as I knew too 
well — caution pulled me up, and whispered me 
to take the blame. 

" Vm sure I thought I locked it, Bumford. I 
never left it unlocked before, and V\\ take care 
I never leave it so again." 

" Such a thing as having the church open for 
a night was never heered of," he ^rurcsbl^d. 

158 Johnny Ludlow. 

turning away to ring out the first peal of the 
bell. " Why, I might have had all my store o' 
candles stole ! — ^there's nigh a pound on 'em, ia 
here. And my black gownd — and the parson's 
gownd — and his surplice! Besides the grave- 
digging tools, and other odds and ends." 

Shutting himself into his den underneath the 
belfry, and tugging fiercely at the cords, the bell 
tinkled out, warning the parish that it was time 
to start for morning service. The bell-ringer 
was a poor old man named Japhet, who was apt to 
be a little late. Upon which Bumford would begin 
the ringing, and blow Japhet up when he came. 

Not a soul was yet in church. I went down 
the middle aisle softly calling Fred Westerbrook's 
name. He did not answer ; and I hoped to my 
heart he had got clear away. The open entrance- 
door seemed to indicate that he had ; and I 
thought he might have left it undone in case he 
had to make a bolt back again. Nevertheless, 
I could not shake off the remembrance of my 
unpleasant dream. 

Of all troublesome idiots, that Bumford was 
the worst. When I went back, after passing by 
all the remote nooks and corners, Japhet had 
taken his place at the bell, and he was telling 
the parson of my sins. 

" Right on the latch all the blessed night, 
your reverence," protested Bumford. "We 
might have found the whole church ransacked 
this morning." 

The Syllabub Feast, 159 

Mr. Holland, a mild man, with stout legs, and 
cares of his own, looked at me with a half smile. 
" How was it, Johnny?" 

" I have assured Bumford, sir, that it shall 
not happen again. I certainly thought I had 
locked it when I took him back the key. No 
harm has come of it." 

" But harm might ha come," persisted Bum- 
ford. " Look at all them candles in there ! and 
the gownds and surplices! Pretty figures we 
should ha' cut, saving his reverence s presence, 
with nothing to put upon our backs this here 
blessed morning I" 

"Talking of the key, I missed mine this 
morning," remarked Mr. Holland. " Have you 
fetched it away for any purpose, Bumford ?" 

"What, the tother church key!" exclaimed 
Bumford. " Not I, sir. I'd not be likely to 
fetch that key when Tve got my own — and 
without your reverence's knowledge either!" 

"Well, I cannot find it anywhere," said Mr. 
Holland. " It generally lies on the mantel-piece 
at home, and it is not there this morning." 

He went into the vestry with the last words. 
To hear that the church key generally lay on 
the mantel-piece, was nothing ; for the parson s 
house was not noticeable for order. There 
would have been none in it at all but for Edna. 

Close upon that, arrived Shepherd, a folded 
paper in his hand. It contained a request that 
Gisby might be prayed for in the Litany, 

i6o Johnny Ludlow. 

" What, ain't he dead yet ?" asked Bumford. 

" No," returned Shepherd. " The doctors be 
afraid that internal inflammation's a-setting in 
now. Any way, he is rare and bad, poor man." 

Next came in my set of singers, chiefly boys 
and girls from the parish school. But they 
sang better than such children generally sing ; 
and would have sung very well indeed with an 
organist who had his head on his shoulders the 
proper way. Mrs. Todhetley had long taken 
pains with them, but latterly it had all been 
upset by Richards's crotchets. 

" Now, look here," said I, gathering them 
before me. "We are not going to have any 
shrieking to-day. We sing to praise God, 
you know, and He is in the church with you 
and hears you ; He is not a mile or two away, 
that you need shout out to be heard all that 

" Please, sir, Mr. Richards tells us to sing out 
loud : as loud as ever we can. Some on us 
a most cracks our voices at it." 

"Well, never mind Mr. Richards to-day. I 
am going to play, and I tell you to sing softly. 
If you don't, I shall stop the organ and let you 
shout by yourselves. You'll not like that. To 
shout and shriek in church is more irreverent 
than I care to talk of." 

" Please, sir, Mr. Richards plays the organ so 
loud that we can't help it." 

" I wish you'd let Mr. Richards alone. You 

The Syllabub Feast. i6i 

won't hear the organ loud to-day. Do you say 
your prayers when you go to bed at night ?" 

This question took them aback. But at last 
the whole lot answered that they did. 

" And do you say your prayers softly, or do 
you shout them out at the top of your voices } 
To my mind, it is just as unseemly to shout 
when singing in church, as it would be when 
praying. This church has been like nothing 
lately but the ranters' chapel. There, take your 
seats, and look out the places in your prayer- 

I watched the different groups walk into 
church. Our people were pretty early. Tod 
slipped aside as they went up the aisle to whisper 
me a question — Had Fred got clear away } I 
told him I thought so, hearing and seeing nothing 
to the contrary. When the parson's children 
came in, Mrs. Holland was with him, so that 
Edna Blake was enabled to join the singers, as 
she did when she could. But it was not often 
Mrs. Holland came to church. Edna had dark 
circles round her eyes. They looked out at 
mine with a painful inquiry in their depths. 

"Yes, I think it is all right," I nodded in 

" Mr. Holland has missed his church-key," she 
whispered. " Coming along to church, Charley 
suddenly called out that he remembered hiding 
it in Mr. Fred Westerbrook's coat-pocket. Mrs. 
Holland seemed quite put out about it, and asked 

VOL. m. 11 

1 62 Johnny Ltidlow. 

me how I could possibly have allowed him to 
come into the study and sit there." 

" There's old Westerbrook, Edna ! Just look ! 
His face is fiercer than usual." 

Mrs. Westerbrook was with him, in a peach- 
coloured corded-silk gown. She made a point 
of dressing well. But she was just one of those 
women that no attire, good or bad, would set off : 
her face common, her figure stumpy. And so, 
one after another, the congregation all came in, 
and the service began. It caused quite a sensa- 
tion when Mr. Holland made a pause, after 
turning to the Litany, and read out the announce- 
ment : " Your prayers are requested for Walter 
Gisby, who lies in dangerous extremity." Mens 
heads moved, and bonnets fluttered. 

" How I wish you played for us always, 
Johnny!" cried Miss Susan Page, looking in 
upon me to say it, as she passed out from her 
pew, when the service was over. 

" Why, my playing; is nothing. Miss Susan !" 

** Perhaps not. I don't know. But it has 
this effect, Johnny — it sends us home with a 
feeling of peace in our hearts. What with 
Richards s crashing and the singers* shouting, we 
are generally turned out in a state of irrita- 

After running through the voluntary, I found 
a large collection of people in the churchyard. 
Old Westerbrook was holding forth on the sub- 
ject of Fred's iniquities to a numerous audience, 

The Syllabub Feast. 163 

the Squire making one of them. Mrs. Wester- 
brook looked simply malicious. 

" No, I do not know where he is hiding/' Said 
the master of the N. D. Farm in answer to a 
question. " I wish I did know : I would hang 
him with all the pleasure in life. An ungrateful, 
reckless What's that, Squire ? — You d re- 
commend me to increase the reward ? Why, I 
Jiave increased it. I have doubled it. Old 
Jones has my orders to post up fresh bills." 

"If alFs true that's reported, he can't escape 
very far ; he had no money .in his pocket," put 
in young Mr. Stirling of the Court, who some- 
times came over to our church. " By the way, 
who has been playing to-day ?" 

"Johnny Ludlow." 

"Oh, have you, Johnny .^" he said, turning to me. 
"It was very pleasant. And so was the singing." 

"It would have been better worth your hear- 
ing had Mrs. Todhetley played — as she was to 
have done," I said, wishing they'd not bring me 
up before people, and knowing that my playing 
was just as simple as it could be, neither florid 
nor flowery." 

"/ have seen what Frederick Westerbrook 
was, this many a year past," broke in Mrs. 
Westerbrook in a loud tone, as if resenting the 
diverging of the conversation from Fred's ill- 
doings.^" Mr. Westerbrook knows that I have 
given him my opinion again and again. Only 
he would not listen." 

11 — 2 

164 Johnny Ludlow. 

" How could I believe that my own brother's 
son was the scamp you and Gisby made him out 
to be ?" testily demanded old Westerbrook, who 
in his way was just as unsophisticated and 
straightforward as the Squire : and would have 
been as good-natured, let alone. " I'm sure till 
the last year or two Fred was as steady and 
dutiful as heart could wish." 

" You had better say he is still," said she. 

" But — hang it ! — I don't say it, ma'am," fired 
old Westerbrook. " I should be a fool to say it 
Unfortunately, I cant say it. I have lived to 
find he is everything that's bad — and I say that 
hanging's too good for him." 

Mr. Holland came out of the church and passed 
us, halting a moment to speak. ** I am on my 
way to pray by poor Gisby," he said. " They 
have sent for me." 

" Gisby must need it," whispered Tod to me. 
" He has been a worse sinner than Fred Wester- 
brook : full of hatred, malice, and all uncharit- 

And so he had been — in regard to Fred. 

" Help ! Thieves !— Robbers ! Help !" 
The shouts came from our yard, as we were 
sitting down to breakfast on Monday morning, 
and we rushed out. There stood Mack, in the 
greatest state of excitement possible ; his eyes 
lifted, his arms at work, and his breath gone. 
The servants ran out before we did. 

Tlie Syllabub Feast. 165 

"Why! what on earth's the matter, Ben 
Mack?" demanded the Squire. " Have you 
gone mad ?" 

" WeVe had thieves in the barn, sir ! Thieves. 
All my clothes is stole." 

" What clothes T 

" Them what I left in*t o* Saturday night, 
Squire. My smock-frock and my boots, and my 
spotted cotton neck-handkecher. They be gone, 
they be." 

" Nonsense !" said the Squire, while I and Tod 
kept our faces. "We have not had thieves 
here, man." 

" But, *deed, and the things be gone. Squire. 
Clean gone ! Not so much as a shred on *em 
left ! Please come and see for yourself, sir." 

He turned, and went across the yard with 
hopping strides. The Squire followed, evidently 
at fault for comprehension ; and the rest of us 
after him. 

" It's a mercy as the horses and the waggons 
bain't took !" cried Mack, plunging into the barn. 
" And the harness ! look at it, a-hanging up ; 
and that there wheelbarrer " 

" But what do you say is taken, Mack ?" inter- 
rupted the Squire, cutting him short, and looking 
round the barn. 

" All my traps, sir. My best smock-frock ; 
and my boots, and my spotted cotton neck- 
handkecher. A beautiful pair o* boots. Squire, 
that I generally keeps here, in case I be ^exvXo^ 

1 66 Johnny Ludlow. 

to Alcester, or Evesham, or where not, and have 
to tidy myself up a bit." 

Tod backed out of the barn doubled up. 
Nearly choking at the "beautiful " boots. 
. "But why do you think they are stolen, 
Mack ?" the Squire was asking. 

" I left 'em safe here o' Saturday evening, sir, 
when I locked up the barn. The things be all 
gone now ; you may see as they be, Squire. 
There bain't a vestige of *em." 

" Have any of the men moved them T 

" 'Twas me as unlocked the barn myself but 
now. Squire. The key on't was on the nail 
where I put it Saturday night. If any of the 
men had unlocked it afore me this morning, 
they'd not ha shut it up again. We've all been 
away at work too on t'other side o' the land since 
we come on at six o'clock. No, sir, it's thieves 
— and what will become of me } A'most a new 
smock-frock, and the beautifulest pair o' strong 
boots : they'd ha' lasted me for years." 

Tod shrieked out at last, unable to help him- 
self Mack cast a reproachful glance at him, as 
if he thought the merriment too cruel. 

" You must have been drinking on Saturday, 
Ben Mack, and fancied you left 'em here," put 
in Molly, tartly. 

" Me been a-drinking!" retorted poor bereaved 
Mack, ready to cry at the aspersion. " Why, I'd 
never had a drop o' nothing inside my lips since 
dinner-time, save a draught of skim milk as the 

The Syllabub Feast. 167 

dairy-maid give me. They was in that far corner, 
they was, them boots ; and the smock-frock was 
laid smooth across the shaft of this here cart, 
the cotton neck-handkecher folded a-top on't." 

" Well, well, we must inquire after the things," 
remarked the Squire, turning to go back to break- 
fast. " I don't believe they are stolen, Mack : 
they'll be found somewhere. If you had lost 
yourself, you could not have made more noise 
over it. Fm sure I thought the ricks must be 
on fire." 

Tod could hardly eat his breakfast for laugh- 
ing. Every now and then he came out with the 
most unexpected burst. The Pater demanded 
what there was to laugh at in Mack s having 
mislaid his clothes. 

But, as the morning went on, the Squire 
changed his tone. When no trace could be 
discovered of the articles, high or low, he took 
up the opinion that we had been visited by 
tramps, and sent off for old Jones the constable. 
Jones sent back his duty, and he would come 
across as soon as he could, but he was busy 
organising the search after Master Westerbrook, 
and posting up the fresh bills. 

"Johnny, we must dispose of that hair of 
Fred's in some way," Tod whispered to me in 
the course of the morning. " To let anybody 
come upon it would never do : they might fish 
and ferret out everything. Come along." 

We went up, four stairs at a time, bolted our- 

1 68 Johnny Ludlow. 

selves in his room, and undid the hair. Fine, 
silky hair, not quite auburn, not quite light 
chestnut, something between the two, but as 
nice a colour as you would wish to see. 

" Better burn it," suggested Tod. 

" Won't it make an awful smell T 

** Who cares ? You can go away if you don't 
like the smell." 

" I shall save a piece for Edna Blake." 

" Rubbish, Johnny! What good will it do her?" 

" She may like to have it. Especially if she 
never sees him again." 

" Make haste, then, and take a lock. It's 
quite romantic. I am going to put a match to it" 

I chose the longest piece I could see, put it 
into an envelope, and fastened it up. Tod turned 
the hair into his wash-hand basin, and set it 
alight : the grate was filled up with the summer 
shavings. A frizzling and fizzing set-in at once: 
and very soon a rare smell of singeing. 

" Open the window, Johnny." 

I had hardly opened it, when the handle of 
the door was turned and turned, and the panel 
thumped at. Hannah's voice came shrieking 
through the keyhole. 

" Mr. Joseph ! — Master Johnny ! Are you 
both in there } What's the matter T 

" What should be the matter ?" called back 
Tod, putting his hand over my mouth that I 
should not speak. " Go back to your nursery." 

" There's something burning ! My goodness ! 

The Syllabub Feast, 169 

it s just as if all the blankets in the house were 
singeing ! You ve been setting your blankets 
on fire, Mr. Joseph !" 

" And if I have !" cried Tod, blowing away at 
the hair to make it burn the quicker. " They 
are not yours." 

" Good patience ! youll burn us all up, sir ! 
Fire — fire!" shrieked out Hannah, frightened 
beyond her wits. " For goodness* sake, Miss 
Lena, keep away from the keyhole ! Here, 
ma am ! Ma am ! Here s Mr. Joseph with all 
his blankets a-fire !" 

Mrs. Todhetley ran up the stairs, and her 
terrified appeal came to our ears through the 
door. Tod threw it open. The hair had burnt 
itself out. 

" Why don't you go off for the parish engine ?" 
demanded Tod of Hannah, as they came sniffing 
in. " Well, where s the fire ?" 

" But, my dears, something must be singeing," 
said Mrs. Todhetley. "Where is it ? — what is it?" 

"It can't be anything but the blankets," cried 
Hannah, choking and stifling. "Miss Lena, 
then, don't I tell you to keep outside, out of 
harm's way ? Well, it is strong !" 

Mrs. Todhetley put her hand on my arm. 
" Johnny, what is it "i Where is the danger T 

" There's no danger at all," struck in Tod. " I 
suppose I can burn some old fishing-tackle rub- 
bish in my basin if I please — horsehair, and 
that. You should not have the gi^X^^ ^^^ \ 

170 Johnny Ludlow. 

with paper, maam, if you don't like the 

She went to the basin, found the smell did 
come from it, and then looked at us both. I 
was smiling, and it reassured her. 

" You might have taken it to the kitchen and 
burnt it there, Joseph," she said mildly. " In- 
deed, I was very much alarmed." 

"Thanks to Hannah," said Tod. "Youd 
have known nothing about it but for her. I wish 
you d just order her to mind her own business." 

"It was my business, Mr. Joseph — smelling 

all that frightful smell o' singeing ! And if 

Why, whose boots be these T broke off Hannah. 

Opening the closet to get out the hair, we had 
left Fred's boots exposed. Hannah's eyes, 
ranging themselves around in search of the 
singeing, had espied them. She answered her 
own question. 

" You must have brought them from school 
in your box by mistake, Mr. Joseph. These 
are men's boots, these are !" 

" I can take them back to school again," said 
Tod, carelessly. 

So that passed off. " And it is the best thing 
we can do with the boots, Johnny, as I think," 
he said to me in a low tone when we were once 
more left to ourselves. " We can't burn them. 
They'd make a choicer scent than the hair made." 

" I suppose they'd not fit Mack ?" 

Tod laughed. 

The Syllabub Feast. 171 

" If he kept those other * beautiful boots' for 
high days and holidays, what would he not keep 
these for ? No, Johnny ; they are too slender 
for Mack's foot." 

" I wonder how poor Fred likes his clumsy 
ones ? — how he contrives to tramp it in them ?" 
• " I would give something to know that he was 
clear out of the country !" 

Dashing over to the Parsonage under pre- 
tence of saying good-bye to the children, I gave 
the envelope containing the lock of hair to 
Edna, telling her what it was. The red colour 
rushed into her face, the tears to her eyes. 

" Thank you, Johnny," she said softly. " Yes, 
I shall like to keep it — just a little memorial of 
him. Most likely we shall never meet again." 

" I should just take up the other side of the 
question, Edna, and look forward to meeting him." 

" Not here, at any rate," she answered. " How 
could he ever come back to England with this 
dreadful charge hanging over him } Good luck 
to you this term, Johnny Ludlow. Sometimes 
I think our school-days are the happiest." 

We were to dine in the middle of the day, 
and start for school at half-past two. Tod boldly 
asked the Squire to give him a sovereign, apart 
from any replenishing of his pockets that might 
take place at starting. He wanted it for a par- 
ticular purpose, he said. 

And the Pater, after holding forth a bit about A 
thrift versus extravagance, handed out. \}cv^ ^on^- ^ 

172 Johnny Ludlow. 

reign. Tod betook himself to the barn. There 
sat Mack on the inverted wheelbarrow, at his 
dinner of cold bacon and bread, and looking 
most disconsolate. 

" Found the things, Mack ?" 

" Me found 'em, Mr. Joseph ! No, sir ; and 
I bain't ever likely to find 'em, that's more: 
They are clean walked off, they are. When I 
thinks o' them there beautiful boots, and that 
there best smock-frock, I be fit to choke, I be !" 

Tod was fit to choke, keeping his counte- 
nance. " What was their value. Mack ?" 

They were of untold val'e, sir, to me. I'd 
not hardly ha' lost 'em for a one-pound note." 

" Would a pound replace 'em ?" 

Mack, drawing his knife across the bread and 
bacon, let it stay in the middle, and looked up. 
Tod spoke more plainly. 

" Could you buy new ones with a pound ?" 

" Bless your heart, sir, and where be I to get 
a pound from ? I was just a-calkelating how 
long it 'ud take me to save enough money 

up \ 

" I wish you'd answer my question. Mack. 

Would a pound reolace the articles that have 

been stolen ?" 

"Why, in course it would, sir," returned 

Mack, staring. " But where be I '' 

" Don't bother. Look here : there's a pound" 

— tossing the sovereign to him. " Buy yourself 

^ iiew things, and think no more of the old ones." 

The Syllabub Feast. 173 

Mack could not believe his eyes or ears. 
" Oh, Mr. Joseph ! Well, I never ! Sir, you 
1: ^ " 

" But now, understand this much. Mack. I 
only give you the money on one condition — 
that you say nothing about it. Tell nobody T 

" Well, I never, Mr. Joseph ! A whole golden 
pound ! Why, sir, it'll set me up reg'lar in ' 

"If you don't attend to what I am saying, 
Mack, ril take it away again. You are not to 
tell anyone that you have had it, do you hear T 

"Sir, rU never tell a blessed soul." 

" Very well. I shall expect you to keep your 
word. Once let it be known that your lost 
clothes have been replaced, and we should have 
the rest of the men losing theirs on speculation. 
So keep a silent tongue in your head ; to the 
Squire as well as to others." 

" Bless your heart, Mr. Joseph 1 I'll take care, 
sir. Nobody shan't know on't from me. When 
the wife wants to ferret out where I got 'em, I'll 
swear to her I've went in trust for 'em. And 
I'm sure I thank ye, sir, with all my -" 

Tod walked away, cutting the thanks short. 

As we were turning out at the gates on our 
way back to school. Tod driving Bob and Blister 
(which he much liked to do, though it was not 
always the Squire trusted him) and Giles sitting 
behind us, Duffham was coming along on his 
horse. Todd pulled up, and asked what was 
the latest news of Gisby. m 

174 Johnny Ludlow. 

" Well, strange to say, we are beginning to 
have some faint hopes of him," replied the 
doctor. *' There's no doubt that at mid-day he 
was a trifle easier and better." 

'* That's good news," said Tod. ** The man 
is a detestable sneak, but of course one does not 
want him to die. Save him if you can, Mr. Duff- 
ham — for Fred Westerbrook's sake. Good-bye." 

** Good speed to you both," returned Duff- 
ham. " Take care of those horses. They are 

Tod gently touched the two with the whip, 
and called back a saucy word. He particularly 
resented any reflection on his driving. 


A year went by. We were at home for the 
Michaelmas holidays again. And who should 
chance to call at the Manor the very day of our 
arrival, but old Westerbrook. 

Changes had taken place at the N. D. Farm. 
Have you ever observed that when our whole 
heart is set upon a thing, our entire aims and 
actions are directed to bring it about, it is all 
quietly frustrated by that Finger of Fate that 
none of us, whether prince or peasant, can 
resist ? Mrs. Westerbrook had been doing 
her best to move heaven and earth to encom- 
pass the deposition of Fred Westerbrook for 
her own succession, and behold she could not. 

TJte Syllabub Feast. 175 

Just as she had contrived that Fred should be 
crushed, and she herself put into old Wester- 
brook*s will in his place, as the inheritor of the 
N. D. Farm and all its belongings, Heaven 
rendered her work nugatory by taking her to 

Yes, Mrs. Westerbrook was dead. She was 
carried ofif after a rather short illnesss : and 
Mr. Westerbrook was a widower, bereaved and 

He was better ofif without her. The home 
was ten times more peaceful. He felt tfiat: but 
he felt it to be very lonely ; and he more than 
once caught himself wishing Fred was back 
again. Which of course meant wishing that he 
had never gone away, and never turned out to 
be a scamp. 

Gisby did not die. Gisby had recovered in . 
process of time, and was now more active on 
the farm than ever. Rather too active, its 
master was beginning dimly to suspect. Gisby 
seemed to haunt him. Gisby assumed more 
power than was at all needful ; and Gisby never 
ceased to pour into Mr. Westerbrook's ear re- 
iterations of Fred*s base iniquity. Altogether, 
Mr. Westerbrook was growing a bit tired of 
Gisby. He had taken to put him down with 
sharp curtness ; and once when Gisby ventured 
to hint that it might be a convenient arrange- 
ment if he took up his abode in the house, Mr. 
Westerbrook swore at him. As to Fred, V^^ 


176 Johnny Ludlow. 

was still popularly looked upon as cousin- 
german to the fiend incarnate. 

Nothing had been heard of him. Nothing 
of any kind since that moonlight night when he 
had made his escape. Waiting for news from 
him so long, and waiting in vain, I, and Tod 
with me, had at last made up our minds that 
nothing more ever would be heard of him in 
this world. In short, that he had slipped out 
of it. Perhaps been starved out of it. Starved 
to death. 

Well, Mr. Westerbrook called at the Manor 
within an hour of our getting home for Michael- 
mas, just twelve months after the uproar. 

To me, he looked to be a good deal changed : 
his manner was quiet and subdued, almost as 
though he no longer took much interest in life ; 
his hair had turned much greyer, and he com- 
plained of a continual pain in the left leg, which 
made him stiff, and sometimes prevented him 
from walking. Duffham called it a touch of 
rheumatism. Mr. Westerbrook fancied it might 
be an indication of something worse. 

** But you have walked Here, Westerbrook !" 
remarked the Squire. 

" And shall walk back again— round by the 
village," he said. "It seems to me to be just 
this. Squire — that if I do not make an effort to 
walk while I can, I may be laid aside for good." 

He gave a deep sigh as he spoke, as if he 
had the care of the whole parish upon him. 

The Syllabub Feast. 177 

The Squire began talking of the crop of oats on 
the N. D. Farm, saying what a famous crop it was. 

" You'll net a good penny by them this year, 

" Passable," was the indifferent reply. ** Good 
crops no longer bring me the satisfaction they 
did, Squire. I've nobody to save for now. 
Will you spend a day with me before you go 
back, young gentlemen ?" he went on, turning 
to us. " Come on Friday. It is pretty lonely 
there. It wants company to enliven it." 

And we promised we would go. 

He said good-bye, and I went with him, to 
help him over the stile into the lane, on account 
of his stiffness — for that was the road he meant 
to take to Church Dykely. In passing the 
ricks he laid his left hand on my shoulder. 

" You won't mind a lonely day with a lonely 
old man ?" 

" We shall like it, sir. We will do our best 
to enliven you." 

" It is not much that will do that now, Johnny 
Ludlow," said he. " When a man gets to my 
age, and feels his health and strength failing, it 
seems hard to be left all alone." 

" No doubt it does, sir. I wish you had Fred 
back !" I boldly added. 

" Hush, Johnny. Fred is lost to me for good. 
He made his own bed, you know, and is lying 
on it. As I have to lie on mine — such as it is. 
Such as he left to me 1" 

VOL. III. \i 

•-, »» 

178 Johnny Ludlow. 

" Do you know where Fred is, sir ?" 

" Do I know where Fred is ?" he repeated, in 
a tart tone. "How should I be likely to know ? 
How could I know ? I have never heard tidings 
of him, good or bad, since that wretched 

We had gained the stile. Old Westerbrook 
rested his arms upon the top bar instead of 
getting over, tapping the step on the other side 
with his thick walking-stick. 

** Gisby s opinion is that Fred threw himself 
into the first deep pond that lay in his way that 
night, and so put an end to his career for good," 
said he. "My late wife thought so, too." 

" Don't you believe anything of the kind, sir, 
said I, in hot impulse. 

" It is what Gisby is always dinning into me, 
Johnny. I hate to hear him. With all Fred's 
faults, he was not one to fly to that extremity, 
under " 

" I am quite sure he was not, sir. And did not." 

" Under ordinary circumstances, I was about 
to say," went on the old gentleman, with apathy, 
as he put one foot on the stile. " But when a 
man gets the crime of murder upon his soul, 
there's no answering for what he may be tempted 
to do in his remorse and terror." 

"It was not murder at all, sir. Gisby is well 

" But it was thought to be murder at the 
time. Who would have given a brass button 

The Syllabub Feast. 179 

for Gisbys life that night? Don*t quibble, 
Master Johnny." 

" Gisby was shot, sir ; there s no denying 
that, or that he might have died of it ; but I am 
quite sure it was not Fred who shot him." 

" Tush !" said he, testily. " Help me over." 

I wished I dared tell him all. Jumping 
across myself, I assisted him down. Not that 
it would have answered any end if I did tell. 

** Shall I walk with you as far as the houses, 

sir r 

"No, thank ye, lad. I want to be independent 
as long as I can. Come you both over in good 
time on Friday. Perhaps we can get an hour. 
or two's shooting." 

Friday came, and we had rather a jolly day 
than not, what with shooting and feasting. 
Gisby drew near to join us in the cover, but his 
master civilly told him that he was not wanted 
and need not hinder his time to look after us. 
Never a word did old Westerbrook say that day 
of Fred, and he put on his best spirits to enter- 
tain us. 

But in going away at night, when Tod had 
gone round to get the bag of partridges, which 
old Westerbrook insisted on our taking home, 
he suddenly spoke to me. We were standing 
at his front-door under the starlight. 

'* What made you say the other day that Fred 
was not guilty ?" 

** Because, sir, I feel sure he was not- I ^.tcv 

12 — 2 

i8o Johnny Ludlow, 

as sure of it as though Heaven had shown it to 


" He was with the gang of poachers : Gisby 
saw him shoot," said the old man, with refuting 

" Gisby may have been mistaken. And Fred's 
having been with the poachers at the moment 
was, I think, accidental." 

" Then why, if not guilty, did he go away ?" 

** Fear sent him. What would his word have 
been against Gisby s dying declaration ? You 
remember what a hubbub there was, sir — 
enough to frighten any man away, however 
innocent he might be." 

*' Allowing, for argument's sake, that your 
theory is correct, and that he was frightened 
into going into hiding, why does he not come 
out of it ? Gisby is alive and well again." 

Ah, I could not speak so confidently there. 
" I think he must be dead, sir," I said, " and 
that's the truth. If he were not, some of us 
would surely have heard of him." 

** I see," said the old gentleman, looking 
straight up at the stars. '' We are both of the 
same mind, Johnny — that he is dead. I say he 
might have died that night : you think he went 
away first and died afterwards. Not much dif- 
ference between us, is there ?" 

I thought there was a great deal ; but I could 
not tell him why. " I wish we could hear of 
him, sir — ^and be at some certainty." 

The Syllabub Feast. i8i 

" So do I, Johnny Ludlow. He was brought 
up at my knee ; as my own dear little child." 

On our way home, Tod with the bag of game 
slung over his shoulder, we came upon Mr. 
Holland near the Parsonage, with Edna Blake 
and the children. They had been to Farmer 
Page's harvest-home. While the parson talked 
to Tod, Edna snatched a moment with me. 

" Have you heard any news, Johnny ?" 

" Of him ? Never. We can't make it out." 

** Perhaps we never shall hear," she sighed. 
** Even if he reached the coast in safety, he may 
not have got over to the other side. A great 
many wrecks took place about that time : our 
weekly paper was full of them. It was the time 
of the equinoctial gales, and " 

" Come along, Johnny !" called out Tod at 
this juncture. ** We must get on. Good-night, 
Edna : good-night, you youngsters." 

The next day, Saturday, we went to Wor- 
cester, the Squire driving us, and there saw 
Gisby as large as life. The man had naturally 
great assumption of manner, and latterly he had 
taken to dress in the fashion. He was looming 
up High Street, booted and spurred, his silver- 
headed whip in his hand. Taking ofif his hat 
with an air, he wished the Squire a loud good- 
morning, as if the town belonged to him, and we 
were but subjects in it. 

" I should think Westerbrook has never been 
fool enough to make his will in Gisby s ^^Nowtl" 

1 82 Johnny Ludlow. 

remarked the Squire, staring after him. " Egad, 
though, it looks like it !*' 

" It is to be hoped, sir, that he would make it 
in Fred*s," was Tod's rejoinder. And the sug- 
gestion put the Pater out. 

" Make it in Fred's," he retorted, going into 
one of his heats, and turning sharply round on 
the crowded pavement near the market-house, 
by which he came into contact with two women 
and their big butter-baskets. " What do you 
mean by that, sir } Fred Westerbrook is beyond 
the pale of wills, and all else. It's not respect- 
able to name his name. He — bless the women ! 
What on earth are these baskets at ?" 

They seemed to be playing at bumps with 
the Squire ; baskets thick and threefold. Tod 
went in to the rescue, and got him out. 

It was a strange thing. It really was. Con- 
sidering that for the past day or two something 
or other had arisen to bring up thoughts of Fred 
Westerbrook, it was strange that the strangest 
of all things in connection with him was yet to 

Sitting round the fire after supper, upon get- 
ting home from Worcester — it is a long drive, you 
know — and Tod had gone up to bed, dead tired, 
who should walk in but Duflfham. He would 
not sit down, had no time ; but told his business 
hastily. Dick Standish was dying, and had 
something on his conscience. 

" I would have heard his confession," said 

The Syllabub Feast. 183 

Dufifham, " as I have heard that of many another 
dying man ; but he seems to wish to make it to 
a magistrate. Either to a magistrate, or to old 
Mr. Westerbrook, he urged. But there's no time 
to go up to the N. D. Farm, so I came for you, 

" Bless me !" cried the Squire, starting up in 
a commotion — for he thought a great deal of his 
magisterial duties, and this was a very unusual 
call. " Dick Standish dying ! What can he 
have to say? He has been nothing but a 
poacher all his life, poor fellow ! And what has 
Westerbrook to do with him ?" 

"Well," said Duffham, in his equable way, 
" it strikes me that what he wants to say may 
affect Fred. Perhaps Standish can clear him." 

" Clear Fred Westerbrook ! — clear an ini- 
quitous young man who could turn poacher and 
murderer ! What next will you say, Duffham } 
Here, Johnny, get my hat arid coat. Dear me ! 
Take down a confession ! I wonder whether 
there'll be any ink there ?" 

" Let me go with you, sir !" I said eagerly* 
" I will take my little pocket-inkstand — ^and some 
paper — and — and everything likely to be wanted. 
Please let me go !" 

" Well, yes, you can, Johnny. Don't forget a 
Bible. Ten to one if ^^ has one." 

There were three brothers of these Stan- 
dishes, Tom, Jim, and Dick, none of them par- 
ticularly well-doing. Tom was no better thaAv-^ jfl 

184 Johnny Ludlow. 

kind of tramp, reappearing in the village only 
by fits and starts ; Jim, who had married Mary 
Picker, was likewise given to roving abroad, 
until found and brought back by the parish ; 
Dick, as the Squire phrased it, was nothing but 
a poacher, and made his home mostly with Jim 
and Mary. The cottage — a tumble-down lodg- 
ment that they did not trouble themselves to 
keep in proper repair — was at our end of the 
parish, half a mile away, and we put our best 
feet foremost. 

Dick lay upon the low bed in the loft. His 
illness had been very short and sharp ; it was 
scarcely a week yet since he was taken with it. 
Duffham had done his best ; but the man was 
dying. Jim Standish was off on one of his 
roving expeditions, neither the parish nor the 
public knowing whither. 

The Squire sat by the bed, taking down the 
man's confession at a small table, by the light of 
a small candle. I and Duffham stood to hear 
it ; Mary Standish was sent down to the kitchen. 
What he said cleared Fred Westerbrook — Duff- 
ham had no doubt gathered so much before he 
came for the Squire. 

Just what Fred had told us of the events of 
the night, Dick Standish confirmed now. He 
and other poachers were out, he said, his brother 
Tom for one. They had bagged some game, 
and were about to disperse when they encoun- 
tered Mr. Fred Westerbrook. He stayed talking 

The Syllabub Feast. 185 

with them, walking the same way that they did, 
when lo ! they all fell into the ambush planned 
by Gisby. A fight ensued ; and he — he, Dick 
Standish, now speaking, conscious that he was 
dying — ^he fired his gun at them, and the shot 
entered Gisby. They ran away then and were 
not pursued ; a gun was fired after them, and it 
struck his brother Tom, but not to hurt him 
very much ; not to disable him. He and Tom 
made themselves scarce at once, before daylight ; 
and they did not come back till danger was over, 
and Gisby about again. Old Jones and other 
folks had come turning the cottage inside out at 
the time in search of him (Dick), but his brother 
Jim swore through thick and thin that Dick had 
not been at home for ever so long. The Squire 
took all this down ; and Dick signed it. 

I was screwing the little inkstand up to return 
it to my pocket, when Mr. Holland entered, 
Mary Standish having sent for him. Leaving 
him with the sick man, we came away. 

"Johnny, do you know, we might almost 
have made sure Fred Westerbrook was not 
guilty," said the Squire quite humbly, as we were 
crossing the turnip-field. " But why on earth 
did he run away ? Where is he T 

" I think he must be dead, sir. What news 
this will be for Mr. Westerbrook !" 

" Dear me, yes ! I shall go to him with it in 
the morning." 

When the morning came — which was Svitvisc^ J 

J 86 Johnny Ludlaw. 

—the Squire was so impatient to be off that he 
could hardly finish his breakfast. The master 
of the N. D. Farm, who no longer had energy 
or health to keep the old early hours, was only 
sitting down to his breakfast when the Squire 
got there. In his well-meaning but hot way, he 
plunged into the narrative so cleverly that old 
Westerbrook nearly had a fit. 

"Not guilty !" he stammered, when he came 
to himself. " Fred not guilty ! Only met the 
poachers by accident ! — was not the man that 
shot Gisby ! Why, that's what Johnny Ludlow 
was trying to make me believe only a day or two 

" Johnny was ? Oh, he often sees through a 
stone wall. It's true, anyway, Westerbrook. 
Fred never had a gun in his hand that night." 

" Then — knowing himself innocent, why on 
earth does he stay away ?" 

" Johnny thinks he must be dead," replied the 

Old Westerbrook gave a groan of assent. 
His trembling hands upset a saucer-full of coffee 
on the table-cloth. 

They came on to church together arm-in-arm. 
Mr. Holland joined them, and told the news — 
Dick Standish was dead : had died penitent. 
Penitent, so far as might be, in the very short 
time he had given to repentance, added the 

But the knowing that Fred was innocent 

The Syllabub Feast. 187 

seemed to have renewed his uncle s lease of life. 
He was altogether a different man. The con- 
gregation felt quite electrified by some words 
read out by Mr. Holland before the General 
Thanksgiving : " Thomas Westerbrook desires 
to return thanks to Almighty God for a great 
mercy vouchsafed to him." Whispering to one 
another in their pews, under cover of the drooped 
heads, they asked what it meant, and whether 
Fred could have come home "i The report of 
Dick Standish's confession had been heard 
before church : and Gisby and Shepherd got 
some hard words for having so positively laid 
the deed on Fred. 

** I declare to goodness I thought it was Mr. 
Fred that fired !'* said Shepherd, earnestly. 
" Moonlight's deceptive, in course : but I know 
he was close again the gun." 

Yes, he was close against the gun : Dick 
Standish had said that much. Mr. Fred was 
standing next him when he fired ; Mr. Fred had 
tried to put out his arm to stop him, but 
wasn't quick enough, and called him a villain for 
doing it. 

I was taking the organ again that day, if it 
concerns anybody to know it, and gave them the 
brightest chants and hymns the books contained. 
The breach with Mr. Richards had never been 
healed, and the church had no settled organist. 
Sometimes Mrs. Holland took it ; sometimes 
Mrs. Todhetley ; once it was a str^.tv^'^x, ^V^ m 

1 88 Johnny Ludlow. 

volunteered, and broke down over the blowing ; 
and during the holidays, if we spent them at the 
Manor, it was mostly turned over to me. 

The Squire made old Westerbrook walk back 
to dine with us. Sitting over a plate of new 
walnuts afterwards — there was not much time 
for dessert on Sundays, before the afternoon 
service — Tod, calling upon me to confirm it, 
told all about Fred's hiding in the church, and 
how he had got away. But we did not say any- 
thing of the money given him by Edna Blake : 
she might not have liked it. The Squire stared 
with surprise, and seemed uncertain whether to 
praise us, or to blow us sharply up. 

" Shut up in the church for three days and 
nights ! — Nothing to eat, save what you could 
crib for him ! Got away at last in Mack's 
smock-frock and boots ! Well, you two are a 
pair of pretty conjurers, you are !" 

" God bless 'em both for it !" cried old Wester- 

** But they ought to have told me^ you know, 
Westerbrook. I could have managed so much 
better — helped the poor fellow off more effec- 

Tod gave me a kick under the table. He 
was nearly splitting, at hearing the Squire say 

The first thing Mr. Westerbrook did was to 
insert sundry advertisements in . the Times and 
other newspapers, about a hundred of them, 

The Syllabub Feast. 189 

begging and imploring of his dear nephew 
(sometimes he worded it his "dear boy") to 
return to him. Always underneath this adver- 
tisement, wherever it appeared, was inserted 
another : stating that all the particulars of the 
poaching affray, which took place on a certain 
date (mentioning it), were known ; that the 
poacher, Richard Standish, who shot Walter 
Gisby, had confessed the crime, and that Gisby 
had not died of his wounds, but recovered from 
them. This was done with the view of letting 
Fred know that he might come back with safety. 
But he never came. The advertisements brought 
forth no answer of any kind. 

The Master of the N. D. Farm became very 
short with his bailiff as time went on. There 
was no reason to suppose that Gisby had inten- 
tionally accused Fred of the shot — he had really 
supposed it to come from Fred ; but nevertheless 
Mr. Westerbrook took a great dislike to him, 
and was very short and crusty. Gisby did not 
like that, and they had rows perpetually. When 
we got home for the Christmas holidays, it was 
thought that Gisby would not be long on the 
N. D. Farm. 

" Johnny, I want to tell you ! I have had a 
letter. From himr 

The whisper came from Edna Blake. It was 
Christmas Eve :. and we were in the church, a 
lotnDf us, sticking the branches of IvoWj vs\ ^^ ^ 


I go Johnny Ludlow. 

pews. The leaves had never seemed so green 
or the berries so red. 

" Not from Fred T 

**Yes, I have. It came addressed to me 
about a week ago, with a ten-pound Bank of 
England note enclosed. There was only a line 
or two, just saying he had not been able to 
return it before, but that he hoped he was at 
length getting on : and that if he did get on, he 
should be sure to write again later. It was 
signed F. W. That was all. Neither his 
name was mentioned, nor mine, nor any address." 

" Where did it come from ?'* 

" London, I think." 

" From London ! . Nonsense, Edna !" 

** The post-mark was London. You are 
welcome to see the letter. I have brought it 
with me." 

Drawing the letter from her pocket under 
cover of her mantle, I took it to the porch. 
True enough : the letter had undoubtedly been 
posted in London. Calling Tod, we talked a 
little, and then told Edna that we both thought 
she ought to disclose this to Mr. Westerbrook. 

** I think so too," she said, "but I should not 

like to tell him myself though his manner to 

me lately has been very kind. Will you tell 
him, Johnny } I will lend you the letter to 
show him. He will be sure to want to see it." 

** And he will have to know ^ about the gold, 
Edna. The loan of that night." • 

The Syllabub Feast. 191 

" Yes ; it cannot be helped. I have thought 
it all over, and I see that there s no help for its 
being known now. The letter alludes to it, 
you perceive." 

After that, the advertisements were resumed. 
Mr. Westerbrook put some solicitor in London 
to work, and they were inserted in every known 
paper. Also in some of the American and 
Australian papers. Inquiries were made after 
Fred in London. But nothing came of it. As 
to old Westerbrook, he seemed to grow better, 
as if the suspense stirred him up. 

The months went on. Neither Fred nor 
news of him turned up. That he was vegetat- 
ing somewhere beyond the pale of civilisation, 
or else was at length really dead, appeared to 
be conclusive. 

July. And we boys at home again for the 
holidays. The first news told us was, that Mr. 
Westerbrook and his bailiff had parted company. 
Gisby had said farewell to the N. D. Farm. 

In the satisfaction of finding himself sole 
master, which he had not been for many a year, 
and to celebrate Gisby's departure, Mr. Wester- 
brook gave a syllabub feast, inviting to it old 
and young, grown people and children. Syllabub 
feasts were tolerably common with us. 

It was an intensely hot day ; the lawn was j 
dotted with the guests ; most of thenv cgaLlK^x^d fl 

192 Johnny Ludlow. 

in groups under the trees in the shade. Old 
Westerbrook, the Squire and Mrs. Todhedey, 
Parson and Mrs. Holland and Mr. Brandon 
were together under the great horse-chestnut 
tree. Edna Blake, of course, had the trouble of 
the parson's children, and I was talking with 
her. Little tables with bowls of syllabub on 
them and cakes and fruit stood about : by-and- 
by, at sunset or so, we were to go in to a high 

It was getting on for two years since the 
night of Fred Westerbrook's departure ; and 
Edna was looking five times two years older. 
Worn and patient were the lines of her face. 
She was dressed rather poorly, as usual. She 
had never dressed much otherwise : but since 
that unlucky night her clothes had been made 
to last as I should think nobody else's clothes 
ever lasted. Whether that ten pounds had 
absorbed all her funds (as it most likely had), 
or whether Edna had been saving up for that 
visionary, possible voyage to America and the 
home with Fred that was to follow it, I knew 
not, but one never saw her in new things now. 
To-day she wore a muslin that once had rose- 
red spots on it, but the repeated washings had 
diluted them to a pale pink ; and the pink 
ribbons on her hat had faded too. Not but 
that, despite all, she looked a lady. 
" Have you the headache, Edna i^' 
"Just a little," she answered, holding her 

The Syllabub Feast. 193 

hand to her head. " Charley and Tom would 
race about as we came along, and I had to run 
after them. To be much under a blazing sun 
often gives me the headache now." 

I wondered to myself why the parson and his 
wife could not have ordered Charley and Tom 
to be still. Fathers and mothers never think 
their children can tire people. 

** I want some more syllabub, Edna," cried 
Charley just then. 

''And me too," put in little Miles Stirling. 

She got up patiently; ladled some of the stuff 
into two of the custard cups, and gave one to 
each of the children, folding her handkerchief 
under little Stirling's chin to guard his velvet 
dress. They stood at the table, two eager little 
cormorants, taking it in with their tea-spoons. 

At that moment, the gate behind us opened, 
and a gentleman came in. We turned round to 
see who was arriving so late. A stranger. 
Some good-looking fellow with auburn hair, a 
beard that glimmered like soft silk in the sun, and 
a bronzed face. To judge by his movements, 
he was struck with surprise at sight of the gay 
company, and stood in evident hesitation. 

" Oh, Johnny!" 

The low, half-terrified exclamation came from 
Edna. I turned to her. Her eyes were 
strained on the stranger ; her face had turned 
white as death. He saw us then and came 
towards us. We were the nearest to him. 

VOL. III. 1^ 


194 Johnny Ludlow. 

** Do you know me, Edna?" 

I knew him then : knew his voice. Ay, and 
himself also, now that I saw him distinctly. 
Edna did not faint ; though she was white 
enough for it : she only put her hands together 
as one does in prayer, a joyous thankfulness 
dawning in her eyes. 

" Frederick ?" 

"Yes, my darling. How strange that you 
should be the first to greet me ! And you, 
Johnny, old fellow ! You have grown." 

His two hands lay for a time in mine and 
Edna's. Nobody had observed him yet : we 
were at the end of the lawn, well under the trees. 

** More syllabub, Edna!" shrieked out that 
greedy young Charley. 

" And me want more, too," added little Miles ; 
" me not had enough." 

Edna drew her hand away to go to the table, 
a happy light shining through her tears. Fred 
put his arm within mine, and we went across 
the grass together. 

The first to see him was Mr. Brandon. He 
took in the situation at once, and in a degree 
prepared Mr. Westerbrook. " Heres some 
bronzed, young man coming up, Westerbrook," 
said he. ** Looks like a traveller. I should 
not be surprised if it is your nephew ; or per- 
haps one who brings news of him." 

Old Westerbrook fell back in his chair, as 
Fred stood there with his two hands stretched 

The Syllabub Feast. 195 

out to him. Then he sprang up, burst into 
tears, and clasped Fred in his arms. Of all 
commotions! — Mr. Brandon walked away out 
of it into the sun, putting his yellow silk hand- 
kerchief on his head. The Squire stared as if 
he had never seen a bronzed man before ; Tod 
came leaping up, and the best part of the com- 
pany after him. 

** Edna, Edna!" called out Mr. Westerbrook, 
sitting back in his chair again, and holding Fred 
tightly. " Edna, I want you instantly." 

She advanced modestly, blushing lilies and 
roses, her hat held in her hand by its faded 
strings. Mr. Westerbrook looked at her through 
his tears. 

*' Here he is, my dear— do you see ?— come 
back to us at last. We must both welcome him. 
The homestead is yours from this day, Fred ; I 
will have but just a corner in it. I am too old 
now for a busy life : you must be the acting 
master. And Edna, my child, you will come 
here to be his helpmeet in it, and to take care 
of me in my declining years — my dear little 
daughter ! Thank God for all things !" 

Fred gave us just a brief summary of the past. 
Getting over to America without much difficulty, 
he had sought there for some remunerative 
work, and sought in vain. One of those panics 
that the Americans go in for had recently oc- 
curred in the States, and numbers of men were 
unable to get employment. After sundry -adr 

196 Johnny Ludlow. 

ventures, aiKjl some semi-starvaticn, he at length 
made his way to the West Indies. A cousin of 
his late mother was, he knew, settled somewhere 
within the regions of British Guiana. He found 
him in Berbice, a small merchant of New Am- 
sterdam. To him Fred told his whole story ; 
and the old cousin gave him a berth in his 
counting-house. Office work was new to Fred ; 
but he did his best ; and with the first proceeds 
of his pay he enclosed the ten pounds to Edna; 
the house forwarding the letter to their agents 
in London, to be posted from thence. Some 
months later, he chanced to ^ee the advertise- 
ment for him in an English newspaper. As 
soon as he was able, he came off to answer it in 
person ; and — here he was. 

**Airs well that ends well," remarked Mr. 
Brandon, in his dry way. 

** And don't you go fraternising with poachers 
again, Mr. Fred !" cried out the Squire. " See 
what it brought you to the last time." 

** No, Squire ; never again," answered Fred, 
pushing back his auburn hair (very long again) 
with a smile. " This one time has been quite 

" But you cannot have Edna, you know," 
said Mrs. Holland to him, with a disturbed face. 
"The Parsonage could not possibly get on with- 
out her." 

" I am afraid the Parsonage will have to try 
to, Mrs. Holland." 

The Syllabub Feast. 197 

" I shall be obliged to keep my bed ; that 
will be the end of it," said Mrs. Holland, 
gloomily. " Nobody can manage the children 
but Edna. When she is otherwise occupied, 
their noise is frightful : ten times more distract- 
ing than the worst toothache." 

Fred said nothing further ; she was looking 
, so ruefully wobegone. Putting his arm into 
mine, he turned into a shady walk. 

" Will you be my groomsman at the wedding, 
Johnny t But for you, my good friend, I don't 
know that I should have been saved to see this 

" Nay, Fred, I think it was the key of the 
church that saved you. I will be your grooms- 
man if you really and truly prefer to pitch upon 
me, rather than on somebody older and better." 

" Yes, you are right," he answered, lifting his 
hat, and glancing upwards. "It was the key of 
the church — under God." 



" r TELL you it is," repeated Tod. " One 
1 cannot mistake Temple, even at a distance." 

" But this man looks so much older than he. 
And he has whiskers. Temple had none." 

"And has not Temple got older, do you sup- 
pose ; and don't whiskers sprout and grow ? 
You are always a muff, Johnny. That is 
Slingsby Temple." 

We had gone by rail to Whitney Hall, and 
were walking up from the station. The Squire 
sent us to ask after Sir John's gout. It was a 
broiling hot day in the middle of summer. On 
the lawn before the house, with some of the 
Whitneys, stood a stranger ; a little man, young, 
dark, and upright. 

Tod was right, and I wrong. It was Slingsby 
Temple. But I thought him much altered : 
older-looking than his years, which numbered 
close upon twenty-five, and more sedate and 
haughty than ever. We had neither seen nor 
heard of him since quitting Oxford. 

Seen in the Moonlight. 199 

" Oh, he's regularly in for it this time," said 
Bill Whitney, in answer to inquiries about his 
father, as they shook hands with us. " He has 
hardly ever had such a bout ; can only lie in 
bed and groan. Temple, don't you remember 
Todhetley and Johnny Ludlow ?" 

" Yes, I do," answered Temple, holding out 
his hand to me first, and passing by Tod to do it. 
But that was Slingsby Temple's way. I was of 
no account, and therefore it did not touch his 
pride to notice me. 

" I am glad to see you again," he said to Tod, 
cordially enough, as he turned to him; which 
was quite a gracious acknowledgment for 

But it surprised us to see him there. The 
Whitneys had no acquaintance with the Temples; 
neither had he and Bill been particular friends at 
college. Whitney explained it after luncheon, 
when we were sitting outside the windows in the 
shade, and Temple was pacing the shrubbery 
with Helen. 

" I fancy it's a gone case," said Bill, nodding 
towards them. 

" Oh, William, you should not say it," struck 
in Anna, in a tone of remonstrance, and with 
her pretty blush. "It is not sure — and not 
right to Mr. Temple." 

" Not say it to Tod and Johnny ! Rubbish ! 
Why, they are like ourselves, Anna. I say I 
think it is going to be a case." 


200 Johnny Ludlow. 

" Helen with another beau !" cried free Tod. 
" How has it all come about ?" 

" The mother and Helen have been staying 
at Malvern, you know," said Whitney. " Temple 
turned up at the same hotel, the Foley Arms, 
and they struck up an intimacy. I went over 
for the last week, and was surprised to see how 
thick he was with them. The mother, who is 
more unsuspicious than a goose, told Temple, in 
her hospitable way, when they were saying good- 
bye, that she should be glad to see him if ever 
he found himself in these benighted parts : and 
I'll be shot if at the end of five days he was 
not here ! If Helen's not the magnet, I don't 
know what else it can be." 

" He appears to like her ; but it may be only 
a temporary fancy that will pass away ; it ought 
not to be talked of," reiterated Anna. "It may 
come to nothing." 

" It may, or may not," persisted Bill. 

** Will she consent to have him ?" I asked. 

" She d be simple if she didn't," said Bill. 
" Temple would be a jolly fine match for any 
girl. Good in all ways. His property is large, 
and he himself is as sober and steady as any 
parson. Always has been." 

I was not thinking of Temple's eligibility : 
that was undeniable ; but of Helen's inclina- 
tions. Some time before she had gone in for a 
love affair, which would not do at any price, 
caused some stir at the Hall, and came to signal 

Seen in the Moonlight. 201 

grief : though I have not time to tell of it here. 
Whitney caught the drift of my thoughts. 

" Thais over and done with, Johnny. She'd 
never let its recollection spoil other prospects. 
You may trust Helen Whitney for that. She 
is as shallow-hearted as " 

" For shame, William !" remonstrated Anna. 

" It*s true," said he. ** I didn't say you were. 
Helen would have twenty sweethearts to your 
one, and think nothing of it." 

Tod looked at Anna, and laughed gently. 
Her cheeks turned the colour of the rose she 
was holding. 

** What's this about a boating tour ?" he in- 
quired of Whitney. It had been alluded to at 

" Temple's going in for one with some more 
fellows," was the reply. "He has asked me to 
join them. We mean to do some of the larger 
rivers ; take our tent, and encamp on the banks 
at night." 

" What a jolly spree !' cried Tod, his face 
flushing with delight. " How I should like it !" 

" I wish to goodness you were coming. But 
Temple has made up his party. It is his affair, 
you know. He talks of staying out a month." 

" One gets no chance in this slow place," cried 
Tod, fiercely. " I'll emigrate, I think, and go 
tiger-hunting. Is it a secret, this boating affair ?" 

"A secret! No." 

" What made you kick me \]Ltvd^t xJcv^ \.?ii^<^^ ^ 

202 Johnny Ltullow. 

then, when I would have asked particulars at 
luncheon ?" 

" Because the mother was present. She has 
taken all sorts of queer notions into her head — 
mothers always have such — that the boat will 
be found bottom upwards some day, and we 
under it. Failing that, we are to catch colds 
and fevers and agues from the night encamp- 
ments. So we say as little about it as possible 
before her." 

'' I see," nodded Tod. " Look here, Bill, I 
should like to get up a boating party myself : it 
sounds glorious. How do you set about it ? — 
and where can you get a boat T' 

" Temple knows," said Bill, '* I don*t. Let 
us go and ask him." 

They went across the grass, leaving me alone 
with Anna. She and I were the best of friends, 
as the reader may remember, and exchanged 
many a little confidence with one another that 
the world knew nothing of. 

" Should you like it for Helen ?" I asked, in- 
dicating her sister and Slingsby Temple. 

" Yes, I think I should," she answered. " But 
William was not warranted in speaking as he 
did. Mr. Temple will only be here a few days 
longer : when he leaves, we may never see him 

" But he is evidently taken with Helen. He 
shows that he is. And when a man of Slingsby 
Templt's disposition allows himself to betray 

Seen in the Moonlight. 203 

anything of the kind, rely upon it he means 

" Did you like him at Oxford, Johnny ?" 

" Well — I did and did not," was my hesitating 
answer. "He was reserved, close, proud, and 
unsociable ; and no man displaying those 
qualities can be much liked. On the other 
hand, he was of exemplary conduct, deserving 
respect from all, and receiving it." 

* I think he is religious," said Anna, her voice 
taking a lower tone. 

" Yes, I always thought him that. I fancy 
their mother brought them up to be so. But 
Temple is the last man in the world to display 

"What with papa's taking up two rooms to him- 
self now he has the gout, and all of us being at 
home, mamma was a little at fault what chamber 
to give Mr. Temple. There was no time for 
much arrangement, for he came without notice ; 
so she just turned Harry out of his room, which 
used to be poor John's, you know, and put Mr. 
Temple there. That night Harry chanced to 
go up to bed later than the rest of us. He for- 
got his room had been changed, and went straight 
into his own. Mr. Temple was kneeling down 
in prayer, and a Bible lay open on the table. 
Mamma says it is not all young men who say 
their prayers and read the Bible nowadays." 

" Not by a good many, Anna. Yes, Temple 
is good, and I hope Helen will get Kmv. SVv^. 

204 Johnny Ludlow. 

will have position, too, as his wife, and a large 


"He comes into his estate this year, he 
told us ; in September. He will be five-and- 
twenty then. But, Johnny, I don't like one 
thing : William says there was a report at 
Oxford that the Temples never live to be even 
middle-aged men." 

" Some of them have died young, I believe. 
But, Anna, that s no reason why they all should." 

" And — there's a superstition attaching to the 
family, is there not ?" continued Anna. " A 
ghost that appears ; or something of that ?" 

I hardly knew what to answer. How vividly 
the words brought back poor Fred Temples 
communication to me on the subject, and his 
subsequent death. 

"You don't speak," said she. "Won't you 
tell me what it is ?" 

" It is this, Anna : but I dare say it's all non- 
sense — fancy. When one of the Temples is 
going to die, the spirit of the head of the family 
who last died is said, to appear and beckon to 
him ; a warning that his own death is near. 
Down in their neighbourhood people call it the 
Temple superstition." 

" I don't quite understand," cried Anna, look- 
ing earnestly at me. * * Who is it that is said to 
appear ?" 

" rU give you an instance. When the late 
Mr. Temple, Slingsby's father, was walking 

Seen in the Moonlight. 205 

home from shooting with his gamekeeper one 
September day, he thought he saw his father in 
the wood at a little distance : that is, his father s 
spirit, for he had been dead some years. It 
scared him very much at the moment, as the 
keeper testified. Well, Anna, in a day or two he, 
Mr. Temple, was dead — killed by an accident." 

" I am glad I am not a Temple ; I should be 
always fearing I might see the sight," observed 
Anna, a sad, thoughtful look on her gentle face. 

"Oh no, youd not, Anna. The Temples 
themselves don't think of it, and don't believe in 
it. Slingsby does not, at any rate. His brother 
Fred told me at Oxford that nobody must pre- 
sume to allude to it in Slingsby's presence." 

" Fred ? He died at Oxford, did he not T 

" Yes, he died there, poor fellow. Thrown 
from his horse. I saw it happen, Anna." 

But I said nothing to her of that curious scene 
to which I had been a witness a night or two be- 
fore the accident — when poor Fred, to Slingsby s 
intense indignation, fancied he saw his father on 
the college staircase ; fancied his father beckoned 
to him. It was not a thing to talk of. After 
that time Slingsby had seemed to regard me 
with a rather special favour ;• I wondered whether 
it was because I had fiot talked of it. 

The afternoon passed. We went up to see 
Sir John in his gouty room, and then said good- 
bye to them all, including Temple, and started 
for home again. Tod was surly and cross. He 

2o6 Johnny Ludlow. 

had come out in a temper and he was going 
back in one. 

Tod liked his own way. Nobody in the 
world resented interference more than he : and 
just now he and the Squire were at war. Some 
twelve months before, Tod had dropped into a 
five-hundred pound legacy from a distant rela- 
tive. It was now ready to be paid to him. The 
Squire wished it paid over to himself, that he 
might take care of it ; Tod wanted to be grand, 
and open a banking account of his own. For 
the past two days the argument had held out on 
both sides, and this morning Tod had lost his 
temper. Lost it was again now, but on another 

" Slingsby Temple might as well have invited 
me to join the boating lot !" he broke out to me, 
as we drew near home. "He knows I am an 
old hand." 

" But if his party is made up. Tod ? Whitney 
said it was." 

" Rubbish to you, Johnny. Made up ! They 
could as well make room for another. And much 
good some of them are, I dare say ! I can't re- 
member that Slingsby ever took an oar in his 
hand at Oxford. All he went in for was star- 
gazing — and chapels — and lectures. And look 
at Bill Whitney ! He hates rowing." 

" Did you tell Temple you would like to join ?" 

" He could see it. I didn't say in so many 
words, Will you let me ? Of all things, I should 

Seen in the Moonlight. 207 

enjoy a boating tour ! It would be the most 
jolly thing on earth." 

That night, after we got in, the subject of the 
money grievance cropped up again. The Squire 
was smoking his long churchwarden pipe at the 
open window ; Mrs. Todhetley sat by the centre 
table and the lamp, hemming a strip of muslin. 
Tod, open as the day on all subjects, abused 
Temple's " churlishness" for not inviting him to 
make one of the boating party, and declared he'd 
organise one of his own, which he could readily 
do, now he was not tied for money. That re- 
mark set the Squire on. 

" Aye, that's just where it would be, Joe," 
said he. ** Let you keep the money in your 
own fingers, and we should soon see what it 
would end in." 

" What would it end in ?" demanded Tod. 

** Ducks and drakes." 

Tod tossed his head. " You think I am a 
child still, I believe, father." 

" You are no better where the spending of 
money s concerned," said the Squire, taking a 
long whiff. ** Few young men are. Their fathers 
know that, and keep it from them as long as they 
can. And that's why so many are not let come into 
possession of their estates before they are five- 
and-twenty. This young Temple, it seems, does 
not come into his ; Johnny, here, does not." 

" I should like to know what more harm it 
would do for the money to lie in my name in 

2o8 Johnny Ludlow. ^ 

the Old Bank than if it lay in yours ?" argued 
Tod. ** Should I be drawing cheques on pur- 
pose to get rid of it ? That s what you seem to 
suppose, father." 

** You d be drawing them to spend," said the 

** No, I shouldn't. It's my own money, after 
all. Being my own, I should take good care of it." 

Old Thomas came in with some glasses, and 
the argument dropped. Tod began again as 
we were going upstairs together. 

** You see, Johnny," he said, stepping inside 
my room on his way, and shutting the door for 
fear of eavesdroppers, ** there's that hundred 
pounds I owe Brandon. The old fellow has 
been very good, never so much as hinting that 
he remembers it, and I shall pay him back the 
first thing. To do this, I must have exclusive 
possession of the money. A fine bobbery the 
Pater would make if he got to know of it. 
Besides, a man come to my age likes to have a 
banking account — if he can. Good-night, lad." 

Tod carried his point. He turned so restive 
and obstinate over it as to surprise and vex the 
Squire, who of course knew nothing about the 
long-standing debt to Mr. Brandon. The 
Squire had no legal power to keep the money, 
if Tod insisted upon having it. And he did 
insist. The Squire put it down to boyish folly, 
self-assumption ; and groaned and grumbled all 
the way to Worcester, when Tod was taking 

Seen in the Moonlight. 209 

the five-hundred pound cheque, paid to him free 
of duty, to the Old Bank. 

"We shall have youngsters in their teens 
wanting to open a banking account next !" said 
the Pater to Mr. Isaac, as Tod was writing his 
signature in the book. ** The world's coming 
to something." 

** I dare say young Mr. Todhetley will be 
prudent, and not squander it," observed Mr. 
Isaac, with one of his pleasant smiles. 

** Oh, will he, though ! You 11 see. Look 
b^re," went on the Squire, tapping the banker 
on the arm, *' couldn t you, if he draws too large 
a cheque at any time, refuse to cash it ?" 

" \ fear we could not do that," laughed Mn 
Isaac. ** So long as he does not overdraw hife 
account, we are bound to honour his cheques." 

"And if you do overdraw it, Joe, I hope the 
bank will prosecute you ! — I would, I knofw," 
was the Squire s last threat, as we left the bank 
and turned towards the Cross, Tod with a 
cheque-book in his breast-pocket. 

But Mr. Brandon could not be paid then. 
On going over to his house a day or two after- 
wards, we found him from home. The house- 
keeper thought he was on his way to one of 
the " water-cure establishments," in Yorkshire, 
she said, but he had not yet written to give his 

" So it must wait," remarked Tod to me as 
we went home. " Tm not sorry. How the bank 

VOL. III. \\ 


210 Johnny Ludlow. 

would have stared at having to pay a hundred 
pounds down on the nail ! Conclude, no doubt, 
that I was going to the deuce headlong." 

** By Jove !" cried Tod, taking a leap in the 

About a week had elapsed since the journey 
to the Old Bank, and Tod was opening a letter 
that had come addressed to him by the morning 

*' Johnny ! will you believe it, lad ? Temple 
asks me to be of the boating lot, after all." 

It was even so. The letter was from Slingsby 
Temple, written from Templemore. It stated 
that he had been disappointed by some of those 
who were to have made up the number, and if 
Todhetley and Ludlow would supply their places, 
he should be glad. 

Tod turned wild. You mi^ht have thought, 
as Mrs. Todhetley remarked, that he had been 
invited to Eden. 

** The idea of Temple s asking you, Johnny !" 
he said. ** You are of no good in a boat." 

'* Perhaps I had better decline T 

** No, don't do that, Johnny. It might upset 
the party altogether, perhaps. You must do 
your best." 

** I have no boating suit." 

** I will treat you to one," said Tod, munifi- 

Seen in the Moonlight. 211 

•cently. '* We'll get it at Evesham. Pity but 
my things would fit you." 

So it was, for he had loads of them. 

The Squire, for a wonder, did not oppose the 
scheme. Mrs. Todhetley (like Lady Whitney) 
did, in her mild way. As Bill said, all mothers 
were alike — always foreseeing danger. And 
though she was not Tod's true mother, or mine 
either, she was just as anxious for us ; and she 
looked upon it as nearly certain that one of us 
would come home drowned, and the other with 
the ague. 

** They won't sleep on the bare ground, of 
course," said Duffham, who chanced to call that 
morning, while Tod was writing his letter of 
acceptance to Slingsby Temple. 

" Of course we shall," fired Tod, resenting 
the remark. '' What harm could it do us ?" 

** Give some of you rheumatic fever," said 

" Then why doesn't it give it to the gipsies .'*" 
retorted Tod. 

** The gipsies are used to it — born to it, as 
one may say. You young men must have a 
waterproof sheet to lie upon, or a tarpaulin, or 
something of the sort." 

Tod tossed his head, disdaining an answer, 
and wrote on. 

** You will have plenty of rugs and great-coats 
with you, of course," went on Duffham. ** And 
I'll give you a packet of quinine powders. It 

ii\. — a 

212 Johnny Ludlow. 

is as well to be prepared for contingencies. If 
you find any symptoms of unusual cold, or 
shivering, just take one or two of them." 

" Look here, Mr. Duffham," said Tod, dash- 
ing his pen on the table. ** Don't you think 
you had better attend us yourself with a medicine 
chest ? Put up a cargo of rhubarb — and magnesia 
— and castor oil — and family pills. A few quarts 
of senna-tea might not come in amiss. My 
patience ! I believe you take us to be delicate 

"And I should recommend you to carry a 
small keg of whisky amid the boat stores," 
continued Duffham, not in the least put out. 
"You'll want it. Take a nip of it neat when 
you first get up from the ground in the morning. 
It is necessary you should, and will ward off 
some evils that might otherwise arise. Johnny 
Ludlow, rU put the quinine into your charge: 
mind you don't forget it." 

" Of all old women !" muttered Tod to me. 
"Had the Pater been in the room, this might 
have set him against our going." 

On the following day we went over to Whit- 
ney Hall, intending to take Evesham on our 
way back, and buy what was wanted. Surprise 
the first. Bill Whitney was not at home, and 
was not to be of the boating party. 

" You never saw anybody in such a way in 
your life," cried Helerl, who could devote some 
time to us, now Temple was gone. " I must 

Seen in the Moonlight. 21 


say it was too bad of papa. He never made 
any objection while Mr. Temple was here, but 
let poor William anticipate all the pleasure ; and 
then he went and turned round afterwards." 

** Did he get afraid for him T cried Tod in 
wonder. '* Td not have thought it of Sir 

** Afraid ! no," returned Helen, opening her 
eyes. ** What he got was a fit of the gout. A 

'' What has the gout to do with Bill Y' 

** Why, old Featherston ordered papa to 
Buxton, and papa said he could not do without 
William to see to him there : mamma was laid 
up in bed with one of her bad colds — and she 
is not out of it yet. So papa went off, taking 
William — and you should just see how savage 
he was." 

For William Whitney to be ** savage " was 
something new. He had about the easiest 
temper in the world. I laughed, and said so. 

** Savage for him, I mean," corrected Helen, 
who was given to random speech. ** Nothing 
puts him out. Some cross fellows would not 
have consented, and have told their fathers so 
to their faces. It is a shame." 

" I don t suppose Bill cares much ; he is no 
hand at rowing," remarked Tod. '' Did he 
write to Temple and decline T 

*' Of course he did," was Helen s resentfully 
spoken answer ; and she seemed, Xo ^■a;>j \^^- 


214 Johnny Ludlow. 

least, quite as much put out as Bill could have 
been. ** What else could he do ?" 

" Well, I am sorry for this," said Tod. 
** Temple has asked me now. Johnny also." 

" Has he !" exclaimed Helen, her eyes spark- 
ling. " I hope you will go." 

** Of course we shall go," said Tod. " Where's 
Anna T 

** Anna ? Oh, sitting up with mamma. She 
likes a sick-room : I don t." 

** You d like a boat better — if Temple were 
in it," remarked Tod, with a saucy laugh. 

** Just you be quiet," retorted Helen. 

From Whitney Hall we went to Evesham, 
and hastily procured what we wanted. The 
next day but one was that fixed for our depar- 
ture, and when it at last dawned, bright and hot, 
we started amidst the good wishes of all the 
house. Tod with a fishing-rod and line, in case 
the expedition should afford an opportunity for 
fishing, and I with Duffham^s quinine powders 
in my pocket. 

Templemore, the seat of the Temples, was 
on the Welsh borders. We were not going 
there, but to a place called Sanbury, which lay 
within a few miles of the mansion. Slingsby 
Temple and his brother Rupert were already 
there, with the boat and the tent and all the 
rest of the apparatus, making ready for our 
departure on the morrow. Our head-quarters, 
until th^ start, was at tVve SVvv^, a good, old- 

Seen in the Moonlight. 215 

fashioned inn, and we found that we were ex- 
pected to be Temple's guests there. 

" I would have asked you to Templemore to 
dine and sleep/' he observed, in a cordial tone, 
"and my mother said she should have been 
pleased to see you ; but to get down here in 
the morning would have been inconvenient. 
At least, it would take up the time that ought to 
be devoted to getting away. Will you come 
and see the boat T 

' It was lying in a locked-up shed near the river. 
A tub-pair, large of its kind. Three of them 
were enough for it : and I saw that, in point 
of fact, I was not wanted for the working ; but 
Temple either did not like to ask Tod without 
me, or else would not leave me out. The 
Temples might have more than their share of 
pride, but it was accompanied by an equal share 
of refined and considerate feeling. 

" We shall make you useful, never fear," said 
he to me, with a smile. " And it will be capital 
boating experience for you." 

" I am sure I shall like it," I answered. And 
I liked him better than I ever had in my life. 

Numerous articles were lying ready with the 
boat. Temple seemed to have thought of every 
needful thing. A pot to boil water in, a pan for 
frying, a saucepan for potatoes, amop and towing- 
rope, stone jugs for beer, milk, and fresh water, 
tins to hold our grog, and the like. Amid the 
stores were tea, sugar, candles, ctve.e.^e, \5\x\X^^ ^ -^^ | 

2i6 Johnny Ludlow. 

cooked ham, some tinned provisions, a big jar 
of beer, and (DuflFham should have seen it) a 
two-gallon keg of whisky. 

** A doctor up with us said we. ought to have 
whisky," remarked Tod. " He is nothing but 
an old woman. He put some quinine powders 
in Johnny's pocket, and talked of a waterproof 
sheet to lie upon." 

" Quite right," said Temple. " There it lies." 

And there it did lie, wrapped round the folded 
tent. A large waterproof tarpaulin to cover the 
ground, at night, and keep the damp from our 

** Did you ever make a boating tour before. 
Temple i*" asked Tod. 

** Oh yes. I like it. I don t know any plea- 
sure equal to that of encamping out at night on 
a huge plain, where you may study all the stars 
in the heavens." 

As Temple spoke, he glanced towards a small 
parcel in a corner. I guessed it was one of his 
night telescopes. 

** Yes, it is," he assented ; ** but only a small 
one. The boat won't stretch, and we can only 
load it according to its limits." 

Rupert Temple came up as we were leaving 
the shed. I had never seen him before. He 
was the only brother left, and Slingsby s pre- 
sumptive heir. Why, I know not, but I had 
pictured Rupert as being like poor Fred — tall, 
fair, bright-looking as a man can be. But there 

Seen in the Moonlight. 217 

existed not a grain of resemblance. Rupert was 
just a second edition of Slingsby : little, dark, 
plain, and proud. It was not an offensive pride 
— quite the contrary : and with those they knew 
well they were cordial and free. 

Those originally invited by Temple were his 
cousin Arthur Slingsby, Lord Cracroft^s son ; 
Whitney ; and a young Welshman named Pryce- 
Hughes. All had accepted, and intended to 
keep the engagement, knowing then of nothing 
to prevent them. But, curious to say, each one 
in succession wrote to decline it later. Whitney 
had to go elsewhere with his father ; Pryce- 
Hughes hurt his arm, which disabled him from 
rowing ; and Arthur Slingsby went off without 
ceremony in somebody's yacht to Malta. As 
the last of the letters came, which was Whit- 
ney's, Mrs. Temple seemed struck with the coin- 
cidence of all refusing, or compelled to refuse. 
** Slingsby, my dear," she said to her son, ** it 
looks just as though you were not to go." *' But 
I will go," answered Temple, who did not like 
to be baulked in a project, more than anybody 
else likes it ; ** if these can't come, I'll get others 
who can." And he forthwith told his brother 
Rupert that there'd be room for him in the boat 
— he had refused him before ; and wrote to Tod. 
After that, came another letter from Pryce- 
Hughes, saying his arm was better, and he could 
join the party at Bridgenorth or Bewdley. But 
it was too late : the boat was filled, T^^x\^^'^ 

2i8 Johnny Ludlow. 

meant to do the Severn, the Wye, and the Avon, 
with a forced interlude of canals, and to be out 
a month, taking it easily, and resting on Sundays. 

** Catch Slingsby missing Sunday service if 
he can help it !" said Rupert, aside to me. 

We started in our flannel suits and red caps, 
and started well, but not until the afternoon, 
Temple steering, his brother and Tod taking 
the sculls. The water was very shallow ; and 
by-and-by we ran aground. The stern of the 
boat swung round, and away went our tarpaulin ; 
and it was carried off by the current before we 
could save it. 

Well, that first afternoon there were difficulties 
to contend with, and one or other of the three 
was often in the water ; but we made altogether 
some five or six miles. It was the hottest day 
I ever felt ; and about seven o'clock, on coming 
to a convenient meadow nearly level with the 
river, none of us were sorry to . step ashore. 
Making fast the boat for the night, we landed 
the tent and other things, and looked about us. 
A coppice bounded the field on the left ; right 
across, in a second field, stood a substantial 
farm-house, surrounded by its barns and ricks. 
Temple produced one of his cards, which was to 
be taken to the house, and the farmer s leave 
asked to encamp on the meadow. Rupert 
Temple and Tod made themselves decent to go 
on the errand. 

*'We shall want a butvdle. or two of straw,*' 

Seen in the Moonlight. 219 

said Temple ; *' it won t do to lie on the bare 
ground. And some milk. You must ask if 
they will accommodate us, and pay what they 

They went off, carrying also the jar to beg for 
fresh water. Temple and I began to unfurl the 
tent, and to busy ourselves amid the things 

** Halloa ! what's to do here ?" 

We turned, and saw a stout, comely man, in 
white shirt-sleeves, an open waistcoat, knee- 
breeches, and top-boots ; no doubt the farmer 
himself Temple explained. He and some 
friends were on a boating tour, and had landed 
there to encamp for the night. 

** But who gave you leave to do it T asked the 
farmer. '' You are trespassing. This is my 

'* I supposed it might be necessary to ask 
leave," said Temple, haughtily courteous ; **and 
I have sent to yonder house — which I presume 
is yours — -to solicit it. If you will kindly accord 
the permission, I shall feel obliged." 

That Temple looked disreputable enough, 
there could be no denying. No shoes on, no 
stockings, trousers tucked up above the knee : 
for he had been several times in the water, and, 
as yet, had done nothing to himself But two of 
our college-caps chanced to be lying exposed on 
the boat : and perhaps Temple's tone and ad- 
dress had made their due impre^^voTv. TV^ 1 

220 Johnny Ludlow. 

farmer looked hard at him, as if trying to re- 
member his face. 

*' Its not one of the young Mr. Temples, is 
it T said he. *' Of Templemore." 

** I am Mr. Temple, of Templemore. I have 
sent my card to your house." 

** Dash me !" cried the farmer, heartily. 
** Shake hands, sir. I fancied I knew the face. 
IVe seen you out shooting, sir — and at Sanbury. 
I knew your father. Tm sure you are more than 
welcome to camp alongside here, and to any 
other accommodation I can give you. Will you 
shake hands, young gentleman T giving his hand 
to me as he released Temple s. 

** My brother and another of our party are 
gone to your house to beg some fresh water and 
buy some milk," said Temple, who did not seem 
at all to resent the farmer s familiarity, but rather 
to like it. *' And we shall be glad of a truss or 
two of fresh straw, if you can either sell it to us 
or give it. We have had the misfortune to lose 
our waterproof-sheet." 

** Sell be hanged !" cried the farmer, with a 
jovial laugh. *' Sell ye a truss or two o* straw ! 
Sell ye milk ! Not if I know it, Mr. Temple. 
Ye be welcome, sir, to as much as ever ye want 
of both. One of my men shall bring the straw 

*' You are very good." 

"And anything else ye please to think of 
T)ont scruple to ask, sir. Will you all come and 

Seen in the Moonlight, 221 

sup at my house ? WeVe got a rare round o' 
beef in cut, and I saw the missis making pigeon- 
pies this morning." 

But Temple declined the invitation most deci- 
sively ; and the farmer, perhaps noting that, did 
not press it. It was rare weather for the water, 
he observed. 

** We could do with less heat," replied Temple. 

** Ay," said the farmer, " I never felt it worse. 
'' But it's good for the corn." 

And, with that, he left us. The other two 
came back with water and oceans of milk. Sticks 
were soon gathered from the coppice, and the 
fire made ; the round pot, filled with water, 
was put on to boil for tea, and the tent was 
set up. 

Often and often in my later life have I looked 
back to that evening. The meal over — and a 
jolly good one we made — we sat round the camp 
fire, then smouldering down to red embers, and 
watched the setting sun, Rupert Temple and 
Tod smoking. It was a glorious sunset, the west 
lighted up with gold and purple and crimson ; 
the sky above us clear and dark-blue. 

But oh, how hot it was ! The moon came up 
as the sun went down, and the one, to our fancy, 
seemed to give out as much heat as the other. 
There we sat on, sipping our grog, and talking 
in the bright moonlight. Temple with his elbows 
on the grass, his face turned up towards the sky ' 
and the few stars that came out. The colours 

12 22 Johnny Ludlow. 

in the west gave place to a beautiful opal, 
stretching northwards. 

It was singular — I shall always think so — that 
the conversation should turn on MacRae, the 
Scotchman who used to make our skin creep at 
Oxford with his tales of second-sight. We were 
not talking of Oxford, and I don t know how 
MacRae came up. Temple had been talking of 
astronomy ; from that we got to astrology ; so 
perhaps it was in that way. Up he came, how- 
ever, he and his weird believings ; and Rupert 
Temple, who had not enjoyed the honour of 
Mac's acquaintance, and had probably never 
heard his name before, got me to relate one or 
two of Mac's choice experiences. 

'' Was the man a fool T asked Rupert. 

'' Not a bit of it." 

'* I'm sure I should say so. Making out that 
lie could foresee people's funerals before they 
were dead, or likely to die." 

'' Poor Fred was three-parts of a believer in 
them," put in Temple, in a dreamy voice, as 
though his thoughts were buried in that past 

'' Fred was !" exclaimed Rupert, taking his 
brother sharply up. " Believer in what T 

'* MacRae's superstitions." 

'' Nonsense, Slingsby !" 

Temple made no rejoinder. In his eye, 
which chanced to catch mine at the moment, 
there sat a singular expression. I wondered 

Seen in the Moonlight. 223 

whether he was recalling that other superstition 
of Fred's, that little episode a night or two 
before he died. 

" We had better be turning in/' said Temple^ 
getting up. ** It won't do to sit here too long ; 
and we must be up betimes in the morning." 

So we got to bed at last — if you can call it 
bed. The farmer's good straw was strewed 
thickly underneath us in the tent ; we had our 
rugs ; and the tent was fastened back at the 
entrance to admit air. But there was no air to 
admit, not a whiff of it ; nothing came in but 
the moonlight. None of us remembered a 
lighter night, or a hotter one. I and Tod lay 
in the middle, the Temples on either side, 
Slingsby nearest the opening. 

" I wonder who's got our sheet T began Tod, 
breaking a silence that ensued when we had 
wished each other good-night. 

Nobody answered. 

" I say," struck in Rupert, by-and-by, " I've 
heard one ought not to go to sleep in the moon- 
light : it turns people luny. Do any of your 
faces catch it, outside there ?" 

'* Go to sleep and don't talk," said Temple. 

It might have been through the novelty of 
the situation, but the night was well on before 
any of us got to sleep. Tod and Rupert Temple 
went off first, and next (I thought) Temple did. 
/ did not. 

I dare say you've never slept four in a bed — 

.224 Johnny Ludlow. 

and, that, one of Uttered straw. It's all very 
well to lie awake when you ve a good wide 
mattress to yourself, and can toss and turn at 
will ; but in the close quarters of a tent you 
can't do it for fear of disturbing the others. How- 
ever, the longest watch has its ending ; and I 
was just dropping off, when Temple, next to 
whom I lay, started hurriedly, and it aroused me. 

" What's that ?" he cried, in a half whisper. 

I lifted my head, startled. He was sitting 
up, his eyes fixed on the opening we had left in 
the tent. 

" Who's there ? — who is it ?" he said again ; 
and his low voice had a slow, queer sound, as 
though he spoke in fear. 

'' What is it. Temple ?" I asked. 

'' There, standing just outside the tent, right in 
the moonlight," whispered he. " Don't you see?" 

I could see nothing. The stir awoke Rupert. 
He called out to know what ailed us ; and that 
aroused Tod. 

*' Some man looking in at us," explained 
Temple in the same queer tone, half of abstrac- 
tion, half of fear, his gaze still strained on the 
aperture. " He is gone now." 

Up jumped Tod, and dashed outside the tent 
Rupert struck a match and lighted the lantern 
Nobody was to be seen but ourselves ; and th< 
only odd thing to be remarked was the whit 
hue Temple's face had taken. Tod was marc) 
ing round the tent, looking about him far ar 

Seen in the Moonlight. 225 

near, and calling out to all intruders to show 
themselves. But all that met his eye was the 
level plain we were encamped upon, lying pale 
and white under the moonlight, and all the 
sound he heard was the croaking of the 

** What could have made you fancy it ?" he 
asked of Temple. 

** Don't think it was fancy," responded Temple. 
** Never saw any man plainer in my life." 

" You were dreaming, Slingsby," said Rupert. 
" Let us get to sleep again." 

Which we did. At least, I can answer for 

The first beams of the glorious sun awoke 
us, and we rose to the beginning of another day, 
and to the cold, shivery feeling that, in spite of 
the heat of the past night and of the coming day, 
attends the situation. I could • understand now 
why the nip of whisky, as Duffham called it, 
was necessary. Tod served it out. Lighting 
the fire of sticks to boil our tea-kettle — or the 
round pot that served for a kettle — we began to 
get things in order to embark again, when 
breakfast should be over. 

** I say, Slingsby," cried Rupert to his brother, 
who seemed very silent, ** what on earth took 
you, that you should disturb us in the night for 
nothing r 

*' It was not for nothing. Someone was there." 

" It must have been a stray sheep." 

VOL. in. \\ 

226 Johnny Ludlow. 

'' Nonsense, Rupert ! Could one mistake a 
sheep for a man ?" 

** Some benighted ploughman then, * plodding 
his weary way.' " 

"If you could bring forward any ploughman 
to testify that it was he beyond possibility of 
doubt, rd give him a ten-pound note." 

*' Look here," said Tod, after staring a minute 
at this odd remark of Temple's, " you may put 
all idea of ploughmen and everybody else away. 
No one was there. If there had been, I must 
have seen him : it was not possible he could 
betake himself out of sight in a moment." 

** Have it as you like," said Temple ; '* I am 
going to take a bath. My head aches." 

Stripping, he plunged into the river, which 
was very wide just there, and swam towards the 
middle of it. 

*' It seems to have put Slingsby out," ob- 
served Rupert, alluding to the night alarm. " Do 
you notice how thoughtful he is } Just look at 
that fire!" 

The sticks had turned black, and they began to 
smoke and hiss, giving out never a bit of blaze. 
Down knelt Rupert on one side and I on the 

** Damp old obstinate things !" he ejaculated. 
And we set on to blow at them with all our might. 

" Where's Temple ?" I exclaimed presently, 
looking off, and not seeing him. Rupert glanced 
over the river. 

Seen in the Moonlight. 227 

" He must be diving, Johnny. Slingsby's 
fond of diving. Keep on blowing, lad, or we 
shall get no tea to-day." 

So we kept on. But, I don't know why, a 
sort of doubtful feeling came over me, and while 
I blew I watched the water for Temple to come 
up. All in a moment he rose to the surface, 
gave one low, painful cry of distress, and dis- 
appeared again. 

"Oh, my good heavens !" cried Rupert, leap- 
ing up and overturning the kettle. 

But Tod was the quickest, and jumped in to 
the rescue. A first-rate swimmer and diver 
was he, almost as much at home in the water as 
out of it. In no time, as it seemed, he was 
striking back, bearing Temple. It was fortu- 
nate for such a crisis that Temple was so small 
and slight — of no weight to speak of. 

By dint of gently rubbing and rolling, we got 
some life into him and some* whisky down his 
throat. But he remained in the queerest, 
faintest state possible ; no exertion in hini, no 
movement hardly, no strength ; alive, and that 
was about all ; and just able to tell us that he 
had turned faint in the water. 

" What is to be done T cried Rupert. " We 
must get a doctor to him : and he ought not to 
lie on the grass here. I wonder if that farmer 
would let him be taken to his house for an hour 
or two ?" 

I got into my boots, and ran off to ask\ ^ssd 

228 Johnny Ludlow, 

met the farmer in the second field. He was 
coming towards us, curious perhaps to see 
whether we had started. Telling him what had 
happened, he showed himself all alive with sym- 
pathy, called some of his men to carry Temple 
to the farm, and sent back to prepare his wife. 
Their name we found was Best: and most hospit- 
able, good-hearted people they turned out to be. 

Well, Temple was taken there and a doctor 
was called, in. The doctor shook his head, 
looked grave, and asked to have another doctor. 
Then, for the first time, doubts stole over us 
that it might be more serious than we had 
thought for. A dreadful feeling of fear took 
possession of me, and, in spite of all I could do^ 
that scene at Oxford, when poor Fred Temple 
had been carried into old Mrs. Golding's to die, 
would not go out of my mind. 
. We got into our reserve clothes, as if con- 
scious that the boating flannels were done with 
for the present, left one of the farmer's men to 
watch our boat and things, and stayed with 
Temple. He continued very faint, and lay 
nearly quite still. The doctors tried some reme- 
dies, but they did no good. He did not revive. 
One of them called it " syncope of the heart ;" 
but the other said hastily, " No, no, that was not 
the right name." It struck me that perhaps they 
did not know what the right name was. At last 
they said Mrs. Temple had better be sent for. 

*' I was just thinking so," cried Rupert, " My 

Seen in the Moonlight. 229 

mother ought to be here. Who will go for 
her r 

" Johnny can," said Tod. '' He is of no good 

For that matter, none of us were any good, 
for we could do nothing for Temple. 

I did not relish the task : I did not care to 
tell a mother that her son, whom she believes is 
well and hearty, is lying in danger. But I had 
to go : Rupert seemed to take it as a matter of 

** Don't alarm her more than you can help, 
Ludlow," he said. '' Say that Slingsby turned 
faint in the water this morning, and the medical 
men seem anxious. But ask her not to lose time." 

Mr. Best started me on his own horse — a fine 
hunter, iron-grey. The weather was broiling. 
Templemore lay right across country, about six 
miles off by road. It was a beautiful place ; I 
could see that much, though I had but little time 
to look at it ; and it stood upon an eminence, 
the last mile of the road winding gradually up to 
its gates. 

As ill-luck had it, or perhaps good-luck — I 
don't know which — Mrs. Temple was at one of 
the windows, and saw me ride hastily in. Having 
a good memory for faces, she recollected mine. 
Knowing that I had started with her sons in the 
boat, she was seized with a prevision that some- 
thing was amiss, and came out before I was well 
off the horse. 

230 Johnny Ludlow. 

** It is Mr. Ludlow, I think," she said, her 
plain dark face (so much like Slingsby's) very 
pale. ** What ill news have you brought T 

I told her in the best manner I was able, just 
in the words Rupert had suggested, speaking 
quietly, and not showing any alarm in my own 

** Is there danger ?" she at once asked. 

'* I am not sure that there is," I said, hardly 
knowing how to frame my answer. "The 
doctors thought you had better come, in case — 
in case of any danger arising ; and Rupert sent 
me to ask you to do so." 

She rang the bell, and ordered her carriage to 
be round instantly. " The bay horses," she 
added : " they are the fleetest. What will' you 
take, Mr. Ludlow?" 

I would not take anything. But a venebtble 
old gentleman in black, with a powdered .bald 
head — the butler, I concludeyd — suggested some 
lemonade, after my hot ride : and that I was 
glad of. 

I rode on first, piloting the way for the 
carriage, which contained Mrs. Temple. She 
came alone : her daughter was away on a visit 
— as I had learnt from Rupert. 

Slingsby lay in the same state, neither better 
nor worse : perhaps the breathing was somewhat 
more difficult. He smiled when he saw his 
mother, and put out his hand. 

Seen in the Moonlight. 231 


The day dragged itself slowly on. We did 
not know what to do with ourselves ; that 
was a fact. Temple was to be kept quiet, and 
we might not intrude into his room — one on the 
ground-floor that faced the east : not even 
Rupert. Mr. and Mrs. Best entertained us 
well as far as meals went, but one can't be eat- 
ing for ever. Now down in the meadow by the 
boat — which seemed to have assumed a most 
forlorn aspect — and now hovering about the 
farm, waiting for the last report of Temple. In 
that way the day crept through. 

** Is it here that Mr. Temple is lying ?" 

I was standing under the jessamine-covered 
porch, sheltering my head from the rays of the 
setting sun, when a stranger came up and put 
the question. An extraordinary tall and thin 
man, with grey hair, clerical coat, and white 

ft was the Reverend Mr. Webster, perpetual 
curate of the parish around Templemore. And 
I seemed to know him before I heard his name, 
for he was the very image of his son. Long 
Webster, who used to be at Oxford. 

** I am so grieved not to have been able to 
get here before," he said ; *' but I had just gone 
out for some hours when Mrs. Temple's message 
was brought to the parsonage. Is he any better ?" 

** I am afraid not," I answered. ** We don't 
know what to make of it ; it all seems so sudden 
and strange." 

232 Johnny Ludlow, 

** But what IS it T he asked in a whisper. 

** I don't know, sir. The doctors have said 
something about the heart." 

** I should like to see the doctors before I go 
in to Mrs. Temple. Are they here i^" 

*' One of them is, I think. They have been 
going in and out all day." 

I fetched the doctor out to him ; and they 
talked together in a low tone in the shaded and 
quiet porch. Not a ray of hope sat on the 
medical man's face : he as good as intimated 
that Temple was dying. 

** Dear me !" cried the dismayed Mr. Webster. 

*' He seems to know it himself," continued 
the doctor. ** At least, we fancy so, I and my 
brother practitioner. Though we have been 
most cautious not to alarm him by any hint of 
the kind." 

** I should like to see him," said the parson. 
'* I suppose I can T 

He went in, and was shut up for some time 
alone with Temple. Yes, he said, when he came 
out again. Temple knew all about it, and was 
perfectly resigned and prepared. 

You may be sure there was no bed for any of 
us that night. Temple's breathing grew worse ; 
and at last we went in by turns, one of us at a 
time, to prop up the pillows behind, and keep 
them propped : it seemed to make it firmer and 
easier for him as he lay against them. Towards 
morning I was called in to replace Rupert. 

Seen in the Moonlight. 235 

The shaded candle seemed to be burning 

*' You can lie down, my dear," Mrs. Temple 
whispered to Rupert. '' Should there be any 
change, I will call you." 

He nodded, and left the room. Not to lie 
down. Only to sit over the kitchen fire with 
Tod, and so pass away the long hours of dis- 

**Who is this now .'^" panted Slingsby, as I 
took my place. 

*' It is I. Johnny Ludlow. Do you feel any 
better T 

He made a little sound of dissent in answer. 

** Nay, I think you look easier, my dear," said 
Mrs. Temple, gently. 

*' No, no," he said, just opening his eyes. 
'* Do not grieve, mother. I shall be better off. 
I shall be with my father and Fred.'' 

" Oh, my son, my son, don't lose heart !" she 
said with a sob. '* That will never do." 

** I saw my father last night," said Temple. 

The words seemed to strike her with a sort of 
shock. ** No !" she exclaimed, perhaps thinking 
of the Temple superstition, and drawing back a 
step. *' Pray, pray don't fancy that !" 

** The tent was open to give us air,'' he said, 
speaking with difficulty. *' I suddenly saw some 
one standing in the moonlight. I was next the 
opening ; and I had not been able to get to sleep. 
For a moment I thought it vj^s ?>ots\^ Tcvaxv^ 

234 Johnny Ludlow, 

some intruder passing by ; but he took a strange 
likeness to my father, and I thought he beck- 
oned " 

" We are not alone, Slingsby," interrupted 
Mrs. Temple, remembering me, her voice cold, 
not to say haughty. 

" Ludlow knows. He knew the last time. 
Fred said he saw him, and I — I ridiculed it. 
Ludlow heard me. My father came for Fred, 
mother ; he must have come for me." 

" Oh, I can't — I can't believe this, Slingsby," 
she cried, in some excitement. ** It was fancy 
— nervousness ; nothing else. My darling, I 
cannot lose you ! You have ever been dearer 
to me than my other children." 

" Only for a little while, mother. It is God's 
will. That is our true home, you know ; and 
then there will be no more parting. I am quite 
happy. I seem to be half there now. What is 
that light T' 

Mrs. Temple looked round, and saw a faint 
streak coming in over the tops of the shutters. 
" It must be the glimmering of dawn in the 
east," she said. " The day is breaking." 

" Ay," he answered : " my day. Where's 
Rupert } I should like to say good-bye to him. 
Yes, mother, that's the dawn of heaven." 

And just as the sun rose, he went there. 

That was the end of our boating tour. Ridi- 

Seen in the Moonlight, 235 

cule has been cast on some of the facts, and will 
be again. It is a painful subject ; and I don't 
know that I should have related it, but for its 
having led to another (and more lively) adven- 
ture, which I proceed to tell of. 



IT looked the prettiest place imaginable, lying 
under the sunlight, as we stood that first 
morning in front of the bay. The water was 
smooth and displayed lovely colours : now green, 
now blue, as the clouds passed over the face of 
the sky, now taking tinges of brown and amber ; 
and towards evening it would be pink and 
purple. Further on, the waters were rippling 
and shining in the sun. Fishing vessels stood 
out at sea, plying their craft ; little cockle-shells^ 
their white sails set, disported on it; rowing 
boats glided hither and thither. In the distance, 
the grand waves of the sea were ebbing and 
flowing; a noble merchantman, all her canvas 
filled, was passing proudly on her outward- 
bound course. 

** I should like to live here," cried Tod, 
turning away at last. 

And Tm sure I felt that I should. For I 
could watch the ever-changing sea from morning 
to night, and not tire of it. 

Rose Lodge, 237 

" Suppose we remain here, Johnny ?" 

'* To live ?" 

" Nonsense, lad ! For a month. I am going 
for a sail. Will you come ?" 

After the terrible break-up of our boating 
tour, poor Slingsby Temple was taken home to 
Templemore, ourselves going back to Sanbury 
to wait for the funeral, and for our black gar- 
ments, for which we had sent. Rupert was 
fearfully cut up. Although he was the heir 
now, and would be chief of Templemore, I 
never saw any brother take a death more to 
heart. ** Slingsby liked you much, Ludlow," 
said Rupert to me, when he came to us at the 
inn at Sanbury the day before the funeral, and 
the hot tears were running down his face as he 
spoke. "He always liked you at Oxford : I 
have heard him say so. Like himself, you 
kept yourself free from the lawlessness of the 
place " 

" As if a young one like Johnny would go in 
for anything of the kind !" interrupted Tod. 

" Young ?" repeated Rupert Temple. '' Well, 
I don't know. When I was there myself, some 
young ones— lads — went in for a pretty good 
deal. He liked, you much, Ludlow." 

And somehow I liked to hear Rupert say it. 

Quitting Sanbury after the funeral, we came 
to this little place, Cray Bay, which was on the 
sea coast, a few miles beyond Templemore. 
Our pleasure cut short at the beginning of the |^ 

238 Johnny Ludlow. 

holiday, we hardly knew what to do with the 
rest of it, and felt like two fish suddenly thrown 
out of water. Mrs. Temple, taking her son 
and daughter, went for change to her brother's, 
Lord Cracroft. 

At Cray Bay we found one small inn, which 
bore the odd sign of the Whistling Wind, and 
was kept by Mrs. Jones, a stout Welshwoman. 
The bedroom she gave us enjoyed a look-out 
at some stables, and would not hold much more 
than the two small beds in it* In answer to 
Tod's remonstrances, she said that she had a 
better room, but it was just now occupied. 

The discomforts of the lodging were forgotten 
when we strolled out to look about us, and saw 
the beauties of the sea and bay. Cray Bay was 
a very primitive spot : little else but a better- 
most fishing-place. It had not then been found 
out by the tour-taking world. Its houses were 
built anyhow and anywhere ; its shops could be 
counted on your fingers : a butcher's, a baker's, 
a grocer's, and so on. Fishermen called at the 
doors with fish, and countrywomen with butter 
and fowls. There was no gas, and the place at 
night was lighted with oil-lamps* A trout- 
stream lay at the back of the village, half a 
mile away. 

Stepping into a boat, on this first morning, 
for the sail proposed by Tod, we found • its 
owner a talkative old fellow. His name was 
Druff, he said ; he had lived at Cray Bay most 

Rose Lodge. 239 

of his life, and knew every inch of its land and 
every wave of its sea. There couldn't be a 
nicer spot to stop at for the summer, as he took 
it ; no, not if you searched the island through : 
and he supposed it was first called Cray Bay 
after the cray-fish, they being caught in plenty 

** More things than one are called oddly in 
this place," remarked Tod. ** Look at that inn: 
the Whistling Wind ; what's that called after ?" 

"And so the wind do hoostle on this here 
coast ; 'deed an' it do," returned Druff. ** You'd 
not forget it if you heered it in winter." 

The more we saw of Cray Bay that day, the 
more we liked it. Its retirement just suited our 
mood, after the experience of but four or five 
days back : for I can tell you that such a shock 
is not to be forgotten all in a moment. And 
when we went up to bed that night, Tod had 
made up his mind to stay for a time if lodgings 
could be found. 

** Not in this garret, that you can't swing a 
cat in," said he, stretching out his hands towards 
the four walls. " Madame Jones won't have 
me here another night if I can help it." 

" No. Our tent in the meadow was ten 
times livelier." 

"Are there any lodgings to be had in this 
place ?" asked Tod of the slip-shod maid-servant, 
when we were at breakfast the next morning. 
But she professed not to know of any. 

240 Johnny Ludlow. 

** But, Tod, what would they say at home to 
our staying here ?" I asked after awhile, certain 
doubts making themselves heard in rhy con- 

"What they chose," said Tod, cracking his 
fourth ^^^. 

" I am afraid the Pater " 

" Now, Johnny, you need not put in your 
word," he interrupted, in the off-hand tone that 
always silenced me. " It's not your affair. We 
came out for a month, and I am not going back 
home, like a bad sixpence returned, before the 
month has expired. Perhaps I shall tack a few 
weeks on to it. I am not dependent on the 
Pater's purse." 

No ; for he had his five hundred pounds 
lying untouched at the Worcester Old Bank, 
and his cheque-book in his pocket. 

Breakfast over, we went out to look for lodg- 
ings ; but soon feared it might be a hopeless 
search. Two little cottages had a handboard 
stuck on a stick in the garden, with "Lodgings" 
on it. But the rooms in' each proved to be a 
tiny sitting-room and a more tiny bedroom,, 
smaller than the garret at the Whistling Wind. 

" I never saw such a world as this," cried 
Tod, as we paced disconsolately before the 
straggling dwellings in front of the bay. "If 
you want a thing you can't get it." 

" We might find rooms in those houses yon- 
der," I said, nodding towards some, scattered 

Rose Lodge. 241 

about in the distance. "They must be 

" Who wants to live a mile off T^ he retorted. 
'* It's the place itself I like, and the bay, and 

the Oh, by George ! Look there, 


We had come to the last house in the place 
— a fresh-looking, charming cottage, with a low 
roof and a green verandah, that we had stopped 
to admire yesterday. It faced the bay, and 
stood by itself in a garden that was a perfect 
bower of roses. The green gate bore the name 
** Rose Lodge," and in the parlour window ap- 
peared a notice " To Let ;" which notice, we both 
felt sure, had not been there the previous day. 

"Fancy their having rooms to let here !" cried 
Tod. " The nicest little house in all the place. 
How lucky !" 

In he went impulsively, striding up the short 
gravel path, which was divided from the flower- 
beds by two rows of sea-shells, and knocked at 
the door. It was opened by a tall grenadier of 
a female, rising six feet, with a spare figure and 
sour face. She had a large cooking-apron on, 
dusted with flour. 

" You have lodgings to let," said Tod ; " can 
I see them T^ 

" Lodgings to let ?" she repeated, scanning 
us up and down attentively ; and her voice 
sounded harsh and rasping. " I don't know that 
w^e have. You had better see Capl^ixvCo^^^x-as*? 

VOL. III. \^ 

242 Johnny Ludlow. 

She threw open the door of the parlour : a 
small, square, bright-looking room, rather full 
of furniture ; a gay carpet, a cottage piano, and 
some green chairs being among the articles. 

Captain Copperas came forward : a retired 
seaman, as we heard later ; tall as the grenadier, 
and with a brown, weather-beaten face. But in 
voice and manners he, at any rate, did not 
resemble her, for they were just as pleasant as 
they could be. 

" I have no lodgings," said he ; " my servant 
was mistaken. My house is to let ; and the fur- 
niture to be taken to." 

Which announcement was of course a vast 
check upon Tod. He sat looking very blank, 
afid then explained that we only required lodg- 
ings. We had been quite charmed with Cray 
Bay, and would like to stay in it for a month 
or so : and that it was his misapprehension, not 
the servant's." 

" It's a pity but you wanted a little house," 
said Captain Copperas. "This is the most 
compact, desirable, perfect little dwelling mortal 
man ever was in. Rent twenty-six pounds a 
year only, furniture to be bought out-and-out 
for a hundred and twenty-five. It would be a 
little Eden — a paradise — to those who had the 
means to take it." 

As he spoke, he regarded us individually and 
rather pointedly. It looked as much as to doubt 
whether we had the means. Tod (conscious of 

Rose Lodge. 243 

his five hundred pounds in the bank) threw his 
head up. 

" Oh, I have the means," said he, as haughtily 
as poor Slingsby Temple had ever spoken. 
"Johnny, did you put any cards in your pocket ? 
Give Captain Copperas one." 

I laid one of Tod's cards on the table. The 
Captain took it up. 

" It's a great grief to me to leave the house," 
he remarked. ** Especially after having been 
only a few months in it ! — and laying in a stock 
of the best furniture in a plain way, purchased 
in the best market ! Downright grief." 

** Then why do you leave it ?" naturally asked 

** Because I have to go afloat again," said the 
sailor, his face taking a rueful expression. *' I 
thought I had given up the sea for good ; but 
my old employers won't let me give it up. They 
know my value as a master, and have off*ered me 
large terms for another year or two of service. 
A splendid new East Indiaman, two thousand 
tons register, and — and, in short, I don't like to 
be ungrateful, so I have said I'll go." 

" Could you not keep on the house until you 
come back .'*" 

" My sister won't let me keep it on. Truth 
to say, she never cared for the sea, and wants 
to get away from it. That exquisite scene" — 
extending his hand towards the bay, and to a 
steamerworkingherway onwards tve^itVv^\\ot\T-^xv 

\6 — ^ 

244 Johnny Ludlow. 


— "has no charms for Miss Copperas ; and she 
intends to betake herself off to our relatives in 
Leeds. No ; I can only give the place up, and 
dispose of the furniture to whomsoever feels in- 
clined to take it. It will be a fine sacrifice. I 
shall not get the one half of the money I gave 
for it ; don*t look to. And all of it as good as 

I could read Tod*s face as a book, and the 
eager look in his eyes. He was thinking how 
much he should like to seize upon the tempting 
bargain ; to make the pretty room we sat in, and 
the prettier prospect yonder, his own. Captain 
Copperas appeared to read him also, 

** You are doubting whether to close with the 
offer or not," he said, with a frank smile. ** You 
might make it yours for a hundred and twenty- 
five pounds. Perhaps — pardon me ; you are 
both but young — ^you may not have the sum 
readily at command i*" 

** Oh yes, I have," said Tod, candidly, " I 
have it lying at my banker's, in Worcester. No, 
it's not for that reason I hesitate. It is — it is — 
fancy me with a house on my hands !" he broke 
off, turning to me with a laugh. 

"It is an offer that you will never be likely to 
meet with again, sir." 

" But what on earth could I do with the house 
and the things afterwards — allowing that we 
stayed here for a month or two i*" urged Tod. 

"Why, dispose of them again, of course," was 

Rose Lodge, 245 

the ready answer of Captain Copperas. " You*d 
find plenty of people willing to purchase, and to 
take the house off your hands. Such an oppor- 
tunity as this need not go begging. I only wish 
I had not to be off all in a jiffy; I should make 
a very different bargain." 

" I'll think of it," said Tod, as we got up to 
leave. " I must say it is a nice little nest." 

In the doorway we encountered a tall lady, 
with a brown face and a scarlet top-knot. She 
wore a thick gold chain, and bracelets to 

** My sister, Miss Copperas," said the captain. 
And he explained to her in a few words our 
business, and the purport of what had passed. 

" For goodness' sake, don't lose the opportu- 
nity!" cried she, impressively affectionate, as 
though she had known us all our lives. "So 
advantageous an offer was never made to anyone 
before ; and but for my brother's obstinately and 
wickedly deciding to go off to that wretched sea 
again, it would not be made now. Ye^, Alex- 
ander," turning to him, "I do call it quite 
wicked. Only think, sir " — to Tod — ** a house- 
ful of beautiful furniture, every individual thing 
that a family can want ; a piano here, a table- 
cloth press in the kitchen ; plate, linen, knives, 
forks ; a garden full of roses and a roller for the 
paths : and all to go for the miserably inadequate 
sum of a hundred and twenty-five pounds ! But ^ 
that's my brother all over. He's a t^\i^ ^-^^ksyt. ■ 

246 Johnny Ludlow. 

Setting himself up in a home to-day, and selling 
It off for an old song to-morrow !" 

" Well, well, Fanny," he said, when he could 
get a word in edgeways to stem the torrent of 
eloquence, ** I have agreed to go, and I must go." 

" Have you been over the house ?" she re- 
sumed, in the same voluble manner. " No ? 
Then do pray come and see it. Oh, don't talk 
of trouble. This is the dining-room," throwing 
open a door behind her. 

It was a little side-room, looking up the coast 
and over the fields ; just enough chairs and 
tables in it for use. Upstairs we found three 
chambers, with their beds and other things. It 
all looked very comfortable, and I thought Cap- 
tain Copperas was foolish to ask so small a sum. 

" This is the linen-closet," said Miss Copperas, 
opening a narrow door at the top of the stairs, 
and displaying some shelves that seemed to be 
well filled. "Sheets, table-cloths, dinner-nap- 
kins, towels, pillow-cases ; everything for use. 
Anybody, taking the house, has only to step in, 
hang up his hat, and find himself at Home. Look 
at those plates and dishes !" she ran on, as we 
got down again and entered the kitchen. ** They 
are very nice — and enough to dine ten people." 

They were of light blue ware, and looked nice 
enough on the dresser shelves. The grenadier 
stood at the table, chopping parsley on a trencher, 
and did not condescend to take any notice of us, 

Out in the garden next, amidst the roses — 

Rose Lodge. 247 

which grew all round the house, clustering every- 
where. They were of that species called the 
cabbage-rose ; large, and fragrant, and most 
beautiful. It made me think of the Roses by 
Bendemeer's stream. 

** I should like the place of all things !" cried 
Tod, as we strolled towards the bay to get a sail ; 
and found Druff seated in his boat, smoking. 
" I say, Druff, do you know Captain Copperas ? 
— Get in, Johnny." 

" Lives next door to me, at Rose Lodge," 
answered Druff. 

" Next door ! What, is that low whitewashed 
shanty your abode 'i How long has Copperas 
lived here i*" 

"A matter of some months," said Druff. "He 
came in the spring." 

** Are they nice kind of people T 

** They be civil to me," answered Druff. " Sent 
my old missis a bottle o' wine in, and some hot 
broth t'other day, when she was ill. The Cap- 
tain — — " 

A sudden lurch put a stop to the discourse, 
and in a few minutes we glided out of the bay, 
Tod sitting in a brown reverie, his gaze fixed on 
the land and on Rose Lodge. 

** My mind's made up, Johnny. I shall take 
the place." 

I dropped my knife and fork in very astonish- 
ment. Our sail over, we were at dinner in the 
bar-parlour of the Whistling ^N vtvd. 

248 Johnny Ludlow. 

" Surely you won't do it, Tod !" 

** Surely I shall, lad. I never saw such a nice 
little nest in all my life. And there's no risk ; 
you heard what Copperas said ; I shall get my 
money back again when we want to leave it." 

" Look here, Tod : I was thinking a bit while 
we sat in the boat. Does it not seem to you to 
be too good to be genuine ?" 

It was Tod's turn now to drop his knife and 
fork ; and he did it angrily. ** Just tell me what 
you mean, Johnny Ludlow." 

"All that furniture, and the piano, and the 
carpets, and the plate and linen : it looks such a 
heap to be going for only a hundred and twenty- 
five pounds." 

" Well ?" 

** I can't think that Copperas means it." 

''Not mean it! Why, you young muff! 
There are the things, and he has offered them to 
me. If Copperas chooses to part with them for 
half their value, is it my place to tell him he's a 
fool ? The poor man is driven into a corner 
through lack of time. Sailors are uncommonly 

" It is such an undertaking, Tod." 

" It is not your undertaking." 

" Of course it is a tremendous bargain ; and it 
is a beautiful little place to have. But I can't 
think what the Pater will say to it." 

" I can," said Tod. " When he hears of it — 
but that will not be yet awhile — he will come off 

Rose Lodge. 249 

here post-haste to blow me up ; and end by 
falling in love with the roses. He always says 
that there is no rose like a cabbage-rose." 

"He will never forgive you, Tod ; or me 
either. He will say the world's coming to an 

** If you are afraid of him, young Johnny, you 
can betake yourself off. Hold up your plate for 
some more lamb, and hold your tongue." 

There was no help for it ; anything I could 
say would have no more weight with Tod than 
so much wasted water ; so I did as he bade me, 
and held my tongue. Down he went to Captain 
Copperas ere his dinner was well swallowed, and 
told him he would take the house. The Captain 
said he would have a short agreement drawn up ; 
and Tod took out his cheque-book, to give a 
cheque for the money there and then. But the 
Captain, like an honest man, refused to receive 
It until the agreement was executed ; and, if all 
the same, he would prefer money down, to a 
cheque. Cheques were all very good, no doubt, 
he said ; but sailors did not much understand 
them. Oh, of course. Tod answered, shaking 
him by the hand ; he would get the money. 

Inquiring of our landlady for the nearest 
bank. Tod was directed to a town called St. 
Ann's, three miles off; and we started for it at 
once, pelting along the hot and dusty road. The 
bank found — a small one with a glazed bow- 
window. Tod presented a cheque for a kviwdt^d. i 

250 Johnny Ludlow. 

and fifty pounds, twenty-five of it being for him- 
self, and asked the clerk to cash it. 

The clerk looked at the cheque, then looked 
at Tod, and then at me. " This is not one of 
our cheques,*' he said. " We have no account in 
this name." 

" Can't you read ?" asked Tod. " The cheque 
is upon the Worcester Old Bank. You know it 
well by reputation, I presume ?" 

The clerk whisked into a small kind of box, 
divided from the office by glass, where sat a bald- 
headed gentleman writing at a desk full of pigeon- 
holes. A short conference, and then the latter 
came to us, holding the cheque in his hand. 

" We will send and present this at Worcester," 
he said ; " and shall get an answer the day after 
to-morrow. No doubt we shall then be able to 
give you the money." 

" Why can't you give it me now ?" asked 
Tod, in rather a fiery tone. 

" Well, sir, we should be happy to do it; but it 
is not our custom to cash cheques for strangers." 

" Do you fear the cheque will not be hon- 
oured V flashed Tod. " Why, I have five 
hundred pounds lying there ! Do you suppose 
I want to cheat you T 

"Oh, certainly not," said the banker, with 
suavity. "Only, you see, we cannot break 
through our standing rules. Call upon us the 
day after to-morrow, and doubtless the money 
wiJJ be ready." 

Rose Lodge. 251 

Tod came away swearing. " The infamous 
upstarts !'' cried he. " To refuse to cash my 
cheque ! Johnny, it's my belief they take us 
for a couple of adventurers." 

The money came in due course. After re- 
ceiving it from the cautious banker, we went 
straight to Rose Lodge, pelting back from St. 
Ann's at a fine pace. Tod signed the agree- 
ment, and paid the cash in good Bank of England 
notes. Captain Copperas brought out a bottle 
of champagne, which tasted uncommonly good 
to our thirsty throats. He was to leave Cray 
Bay that night on his way to Liverpool to take 
possession of his ship ; Miss Copperas would 
leave on the morrow, and then we should go in. 
And Elizabeth, the grenadier, was to remain 
with us as servant. Miss Copperas recom- 
mended her, hearing Tod say he did not know 
where to look for one. We bargained with her 
to keep up a good supply of pies, and to pay 
her twenty shillings a month. 

" Will you allow me to leave one or two of 
my boxes for a few days T' asked Miss Copperas 
of Tod, when we went down on the following 
morning, and found her equipped for departure. 
"This has been so hurried a removal that I 
have not had time to pack all my things, and 
must leave it for Elizabeth to do." 

252 Johnny Ludlow. 

" Leave anything you like, Miss Copperas," 
replied Tod, as he shook hands. " Do what you 
please. I'm sure the house seems more like 
yours than mine.'* 

She thanked him, wished us both good-bye, 
and set off to walk to the coach-office, attended 
by the grenadier, and a boy wheeling her lug- 
gage. And we were in possession of our new 

It was just delightful. The weather was 
charming, though precious hot, and the new 
feeling of being in a house of our own, with not 
as much as a mouse to control us and our move- 
ments, was satisfactory in the highest degree. 
We passed our days sailing about with old 
Druff, and came home to the feasts prepared 
by the grenadier, and to sit among the roses. 
Altogether we had never had a time like it. 
Tod took the best chamber, facing the sea ; I 
had the smaller one over the dining-room, look- 
ing up coastwards. 

" I shall go fishing to-morrow, Johnny," Tod 
said to me one evening. ** We*ll bring home 
some trout for supper." 

He was stretched on three chairs before the 
open window ; coat off, pipe in mouth. I turned 
round from the piano. It was not much of an 
instrument. Miss Copperas had said, when I 
hinted so to her on first trying it, that it wanted 
'' age." 

** Shall you ? All right " I answered, sitting 

Rose Lodge, 253 

down by him. The stars were shining on the 
calm blue water ; here and there lights, looking 
like stars also, twinkled from some vessels at 

** If I thought they'd not quite die of the 
shock, Johnny, I'd send the Pater and Madam 
an invitation to come off here and pay us a 
visit. They would fall in love with the place 
at once." 

** Oh, Tod, I wish you would!" I cried^ eagerly 
seizing on the words. '* They could have your 
room, and you have mine, and I would go into 
the little one at the back." 

" I dare say ! I was only joking, lad." 

The last words and their tone destroyed my 
hopes. It is inconvenient to possess a con- 
science. Advantageous though the bargain was 
that Tod had made, and delightfully though 
our days were passing, I could not feel easy 
until they knew of it at home. 

" I wish you would let me write and tell them. 

" No," said he ; "I don't want the Pater to 
whirl himself off here and spoil our peace — 
for that's what would come of it." 

** He thinks we are in some way with the 
Temples. His letter implied it." 

" The best thing he can think." 

" But I want to write to the mother, Tod. 
She must be wondering why I don't." 

" Wondering ' won't give her the fev^t^ V^A.. I 

254 Johnny Ludlow. 

Understand me, Mr. Johnny : you are not to 

Breakfast over in the morning, we crossed 
the meadows to the trout stream, with the 
fishing-tackle and a basket of frogs. Tod 
complained of the intense heat. The dark blue 
sky was cloudless ; the sun beat down upon 
our heads. 

** ril tell you what, Johnny," he said, when we 
had borne the blaze for an hour on the banks, 
the fish refusing to bite ; " we should be all the 
cooler for our umbrellas. You'll get a sunstroke, 
if you don't look out." 

** It strikes me you won't get any fish to-day." 

" Does it 1 You be off and get the parapluies." 

The low front window stood open when I 
reached home. It was the readiest way of 
entering; and I passed on to the passage to the 
umbrella-stand. The grenadier came dashing 
out of her kitchen, looking frightened. 

" Oh !" said she, '' it's you !" 

" I have come back for the umbrellas, Eliza- 
beth ; the sun's like a furnace. Why ! what 
have you got there ?" 

The kitchen was strewed with clothes from 
one end of it to the other. On the floor stood 
the two boxes left by Miss Copperas. 

" I am only putting up Miss Copperas's 
things," returned Elizabeth, in her surly way. 
" It's time they were sent off." 

"What a heap she must have left behind!" 

Rose Lodge. 255 

I remarked, and left the grenadier to her 

We got home in the evening, tired out. The 
grenadier had a choice supper ready ; and, in 
answer to me, said the trunks of Miss Copperas 
were packed and gone. When bed-time came. 
Tod was asleep at the window, and wouldn't 
awake. The grenadier had gone to her room 
ages ago ; I wanted to go to mine. 

" Tod, then ! Do please wake up : it is past 

A low growl answered me. And in that 
same moment I became aware of some mysteri- 
ous stir outside the front gate. People seemed 
to be trying it. The grenadier always locked 
it at night. 

** Tod ! Tod ! There are people at the gate 
— trying to get in." 

The tone and the words aroused him. ** Eh ? 
What do you say, Johnny } People trying the 
gate r 

" Listen! They are whispering to one another. 
They are trying the fastenings." 

** What on earth does anybody want at this 
tifne of night ?" growled Tod. ** And why 
can't they ring like decent people ? What's 
your business ?" he roared out from the window. 
** Who the dickens are you T 

" Hush, Todd ! It — it can't be the Squire, 
can it ? Come down here to look after us." 

The suggestion silenced him for a momeat- 

256 Johnny Ludlow. 

** I — I don't think so, Johnny," he slowly said. 
** No, it's not the Squire : he would be letting 
off at us already from the top of his voice ; he'd 
not wait to come in to do it. Let's go and see. 
Come along." 

Two young men stood at the gate. One of 
them turned the handle impatiently as we went 
down the path. 

** What do you want T demanded Tod. 

** I wish to see Captain Copperas." 

" Then you can't see him," answered Tod, 
woefully cross after being startled out of his 
sleep. " Captain Copperas does not live here." 

" Not live here !" repeated the man. " That's 
gammon. I know he does live here." 

" I tell you he does not," haughtily repeated 
Tod. " Do you doubt my word i^' 

" Who does live here, then T asked the man, 
in a different tone, evidently impressed. 

" Mr. Todhetley." 

" I can take my oath that Captain Copperas 
lived here ten days ago." 

'' What of that } He is gone, and Mr. Tod- 
hetley 's come." 

" Can I see Mr. Todhetley ?" 

" You see him now. I am he. Will you tell 
me your business ?" 

" Captain Copperas owes me a small account, 
and I want it settled." 

The avowal put Tod in a rage ; and he showed 
it. " A small accoutvt I Is this a proper time 

Rose Lodge. 257 

to come bothering gentlemen for your smaU ac- 
counts — when folks are gone to bed, or going ?" 

" Last time I came in the afternoon. Perhaps 
that was the wrong time ? Any way, Captain 
Copperas put me off, saying I was to call some 
evening, and he'd pay it." 

" And ril thank you to betake yourself off 
again now. How dare you disturb people at 
this unearthly hour } As to Captain Copperas, 
I tell you that he is no longer here." 

" Then I should say that Captain Copperas 
was a swindler." 

Tod turned on his heel at the last words, and 
the men went away, their retreating footsteps 
•echoing on the road. I thought I heard the 
grenadier's window being shut, so the noise 
must have disturbed her. 

** Swindlers themselves !" cried Tod, as he 
fastened the house-door. " Til lay you a guinea, 
Johnny, they were two loose fellows trying to 
sneak inside and see what they could pick up." 

Nevertheless, in the morning he asked the 
grenadier whether it was true that such men 
had come there after any small account. And 
the grenadier resented the supposition indig- 
nantly. Captain Copperas owed no "small 
accounts " that she knew of, she said ; and she 

had lived with him and Miss C ever since 

they came to Cray Bay. She only wished she 
had seen the men herself last night ; she would 
have answered them. And when, upon this^ I 

VOL. Ill, \T 

258 Johnny Ludlow. 

said I thought I had heard her shut her window 
down, and supposed she had been listening, she 
denied it, and accused me of being fanciful. 

"Impudent wretches!" ejaculated Tod; "to 
come here and asperse a man of honour like 

That day passed off quietly, and to our 
thorough enjoyment ; but the next one was 
fated to bring us some events. Some words of 
Tod's, as I was pouring out the breakfast coffee, 
startled me. 

" Oh, by Jupiter ! How have they found us 
out here ?" 

Looking up, I saw the postman entering the 
gate with a letter. The same thought struck us 
both — that it was some terrible mandate from 
the Squire. Tod went to the window and held 
out his hand. 

" For Elizabeth, at Captain Copperas's," read 
out the man, as he handed it to Tod. It was like 
a relief, and Tod sent me with it to the grenadier. 

But in less than one minute afterwards she 
came into the room, bathed in tears. The letter 
was to tell her that her mother was lying ill at 
their home, some unpronounceable place in 
Wales, and begging earnestly to see her. 

" Tm sorry to leave you at a pinch ; but I 
must go," sobbed the grenadier. " I can't help 
myself ; I shall start by the afternoon coach." 

Well, of course there was nothing to be said 
against it. A mother was a mother. But Tod 

Rose Lodge. 259 

began to wonder what on earth we should do : 
as did I, for the matter of that. The grenadier 
offered to cook our luncheon before starting, 
which we looked upon as a concession. 

" Let's go for a sail, Johnny, and leave per- 
plexities to right themselves." 

And a glorious sail we had ! Upon getting 
back at one o'clock, we found a huge meat pie 
upon the luncheon-table, and the grenadier with 
her bonnet on. Tod handed her five shillings ; 
the sum, as she computed, that was due to 

We heard the bumping of her boxes on the 
stairs. At the gate stood the boy with the truck, 
ready to wheel them to the coach-office, as 
he had wheeled those of Miss Copperas. Tod 
was helping himself to some more pie, when the 
'grenadier threw open the door. 

" My boxes are here, gentlemen. Will you 
like to look at them T 

" Look at them for what ?" asked Tod, after 
staring a minute. 

" To see that I'm taking none of your pro- 
perty away inside them." 

At last Tod understood what she meant, and 
felt inclined to throw the dish at her head. 
" Shut the door, and don't be a fool," said he. 
" And I hope you'll find your mother better," I 
called out after him. 

"And now, Johnny, what are we to do?" cried 
he, when the lunch was over and there was 

26o Johnny Ludlow. 

nobody to take it away. " This is like a second 
experience of Robinson Crusoe." 

We left it where it was, and went off to the 
shops and the Whistling Wind, asking if they 
could tell us of a servant. But servants seemed 
not to be forthcoming at a pinch ; and we told 
our troubles to old Druff. 

'* My missis shall come in and see a bit to 
things for ye," said he. " She can light the fire 
in the morning, anyway, and boil the kettle." 

And with the aid of Mother Druff — an ancient 
dame who went about in clogs — we got on till 
after breakfast in the morning, when a damsel 
came after the place. She wore a pink gauze 
bonnet, smart and tawdry, and had a pert manner. 

" Can you cook .'^" asked Tod. 

The substance of her answer was, that she 
could do everything under the sun, provided she 
were not " tanked " after. Her late missis was 
for ever a-tanking. Would there be any wash- 
ing to do ? — because washing didn't agree with 
her : and how often could she go out, and what 
was the wages ? 

Tod looked at me in doubt, and I slightly 
shook my head. It struck me that she would 
not do at any price. ** I think you won't suit," 
said he to her. 

" Oh," returned she, all impertinence. " I can 
go then where I shall suit : and so, good-morn- 
ing, gentlemen. There's no call for you to be so 
uppish. I didn't come after your forks and spoons." 

Rose Lodge. 261 

" The impudent young huzzy !" cried Tod, as 
she slammed the gate after her. " But she 
might do better than nobody, Johnny." 

** I don't like her. Tod. If it rested with me, 
rd rather live upon bread ai#d cheese than take 

" Bread and cheese !" he echoed. " It is not 
a question of only bread and cheese. We must 
get our beds made and the knives cleaned." 

It seemed rather a blue look-out. Tod said 
he would go up again to the Whistling Wind, 
and tell Mother Jones she must find us some 
one. Picking a rose as he went down the path, 
he met a cleanly-looking elderly woman who was 
entering. She wore a dark apron, and old- 
fashioned white cap, and said she had come 
after the place. 

" What can you do ?" began Tod. " Cook ?" 

" Cook and clean too, sir," she answered. 
And I liked the woman the moment I saw 

" Oh, I don't know that there's much cleaning 
to do, beyond the knives," remarked Tod. " We 
want our dinners cooked, you know, and the 
beds made. That's about all." 

The woman smiled at that, as if she thought 
he knew little about it. *' I have been living at 
the grocer's, up yonder, sir, and they can give 
me a good character, though I say it. I'm not 
afraid of doing all you can want done, and of 
giving satisfaction, if you'd please to try tae. " if 

262 Johnny Ludlow. 

" You'll do," said Tod, after glancing at me. 
" Can you come in at once ?" 

" As soon as you like, sir. When would you 
please to go for my character T 

"Oh, bother that!" said he. " I've no doubt 
you are all right. Can you make pigeon- 
pies t 

" That I can, sir." 

** You'll do, then. What is your name i*" 

"Elizabeth Ho " 

" Elizabeth !" he interrupted, not giving her 
time to finish. " Why, the one just gone was 
Elizabeth. A grenadier, six feet high." 

" I've been mostly called Betty, sir." 

" Then we'll call you Betty, too." 

She went away, saying that she'd come back 
with her aprons. Tod looked after her. 

" You like her, don't you, Johnny ?" 

" That I do. She's a good sort ; honest as 
honest can be. You did not ask her about 

" Oh, time enough for that," said he. 

And Betty turned out to be as good as gold. 
Her history was a curious one ; she told it to 
me one evening in the kitchen ; in her small 
way she had been somewhat of a martyr. But 
God had been with her always, she said ; through 
more trouble than the world knew of. 

We got a letter from Mrs. Todhetley, re- 
directed on from Sanbury. The chief piece of 
news it contained v^as, vVvaX xVve. S<\uire and old 

Rose Lodge. 263 

Jacobson had gone off to Great Yarmouth for a 

" That's good," said Tod. " Johnny lad, you 
may write home now." 

'' And tell about Rose Lodge .^" 

" Tell all you like. I don't mind Madam. 
She'll have leisure to digest it against the Pater 

I wrote a long letter, and told everything, going 
into the minute details that she liked to hear, 
about the servants, and all else. Rose Lodge 
was the most wonderful bargain, I said, and we 
were both as happy as the days were long. 

The church was a little primitive edifice near 
the sands. We went to service on Sunday 
morning ; and, upon getting home afterwards, 
found the cloth not laid. Tod had ordered 
dinner to be on the table. He sent me to the 
kitchen to bloW up Betty. 

" It is quite ready and waiting to be served ; 
but I can't find a clean tablecloth," said Betty. 

** Why, I told you where the tablecloths were," 
shouted out Tod, who heard the answer. "In 
that cupboard at the top of the stairs." 

" But there are no tablecloths there, sir," cried 
she. " Nor anything else either, except a towel 
or two." 

Tod went upstairs in a passion, bidding her 
follow him, and flung the cupboard-door open. 
He thought she had looked in the wrong place. 

But Betty was right. With the exce^tiotv Ci^ 

264 Johnny Ludlow, 

two or three old towels and some stacks of news- 
papers, the cupboard was empty. 

" By Jove !" cried Tod. " Johnny, that 
grenadier must have walked off with all the 
linen !" 

Whether she had, or had not, none to speak 
of could be found now. Tod talked of sending^ 
the police after her, and wrote an account of her 
delinquencies to Captain Copperas, addressing 
the letter to the Captain's brokers in Liverpool. 

" But," I debated, not quite making matters 
out to my own satisfaction, "the grenadier 
wanted us to examine her boxes, you know." 

"All for a blind, Johnny." 

It was the morning following this day, Mon- 
day, that, upon looking from my window, some- 
thing struck me as being the matter with the 
garden. What was it .'* Why, all the roses 
were gone ! Down I rushed, half dressed, burst 
out at the back-door, and gazed about me. 

It was a scene of desolation. The rose-trees 
had been stripped ; every individual rose was 
clipped neatly off from every tree. Two or 
three trees were left untouched before the front 
window ; all the rest were rifled. 

" What the mischief is the matter, Johnny ?"" 
called out Tod, as I was hastily .questioning 
Betty. " You are making enough noise, lad." 

"We have had robbers here, Todd. Thieves. 
All the roses are stolen." 

Rose Lodge. 265 

He made a worse noise than I did. Down he 
came, full rush, and stamped about the garden 
like anybody wild. Old Druff and his wife 
heard him, and came up to the palings. Betty^ 
busy in her kitchen, had not noticed the disaster. 

" I see Tasker's people here betimes this 
morning," observed Druff. " A lot of 'em came. 
'Twas a pity, I thought, to slice off all them nice 
big blows." 

** Saw who ? — saw what ?" roared Tod, turn- 
ing his anger upon Druff. " You mean to con- 
fess to me that you saw these rose-trees rifled,, 
and did not stop it ?" 

" Nay, master," said Druff, " how could I in- 
terfere with Tasker's people ? Their business 
ain't mine." 

" Who are Tasker's people ?" foamed Tod. 
" Who is Tasker T 

" Tasker ? Oh, Tasker's that there man at. 
the white cottage on t'other side the village. 
Got a big garden round it." 

" Is he a poacher .'* Is he a robber ?" 

" Bless ye, master, Tasker's no robber." 

" And yet you saw him take my roses V 

" I see him for certain. I- see him busy with 
the baskets as the men filled 'em." 

Dragging me after him. Tod went striding off 
to Tasker's. We knew the man by sight ; had 
once spoken to him about his garden. He was 
a kind of nurseryman. Tasker was standing 
near his greenhouse. 


■266 Johnny Ludlow. 

" Why did I come and steal your roses ?" he 
•quietly repeated, when he could understand 
Tod's fierce demands. " I didn't steal 'em, sir ; 
I picked 'em." 

" And how dared you do it ? Who gave you 
leave to do it ?" foamed Tod, turning green and 
^ " I did it because they were mine." 

" Yours ! Are you mad ?" 
^ " Yes, sir, mine. I bought 'em and paid for 'em." 

Tod did think him mad at the moment ; I 
•could see it in his face. " Of whom, pray, did 
you buy them ?" 

" Of Captain Copperas. I had 'em from the 
garden last year and the year afore : other 
folks lived in the place then. Three pounds I 
gave fpr 'em this time. The Captain sold 'em 
to me a month ago, and I was to take my own 
time for gathering them." 

I don't think Tod had ever felt so floored in 
all his life. He stood back against the pales 
and stared. A month ago we had not known 
Captain Copperas. 

" I might have took all the lot : 'twas in the 
agreement : but I left ye a few afore the front 
winder," said Tasker, in an injured tone. " And 
you come and attack me like this !" 

" But what do you want with them ? What 
are they taken for ?" 

"To make otter of roses," answered Tasker. 
^' I sell 'em to the distillers." 

Rose Lodge. 267 

"At any rate, though it be as you say, I 
would have taken them openly," contended Tod. 
** Not come like a thief in the night." 

" But then I had to get 'em afore the sun 
was powerful," calmly answered Tasker. 

Tod was silent all the way home. I had not 
spoken a word, good or bad. Betty brought in 
the coffee. 

** Pour it out," said he to me. " But, Johnny," 
he presently added, as he stirred his cup slowly 
round, " I catCt think how it was that Copperas 
forgot to. tell me he had sold the roses." 

" Do you suppose he did forget ?" 

" Why, of com^se he forgot. Would an honest 
man like Copperas conceal such a thing if he 
did not forget it ? You will be insinuating next, 
Johnny Ludlow, that he is as bad as Tasker." 

I must say we were rather in the dumps that 
day. Tod went off fishing ; I carried the basket 
and things. I did wish I had not said so much 
about the roses to Mrs. Todhetley. What I 
wrote was, that they were brighter and sweeter 
and better than those other roses by Bendemeer's 

I thought of the affair all day long. I thought 
of it when I was going to bed at night. Putting 
out the candle, I leaned from my window and 
looked down on the desolate garden. * The roses 
had made its beauty. 

" Johnny ! Johnny lad ! Are you in bed ?" 

The cautious whisper came frorcv Tod. '^xvcs.^- | 

268 Johnny Ludlow, 

ing my head inside the room, I saw him at the 
door in his slippers and braces. 

"Come into my room," he whispered. "Those 
fellows who disturbed us the other night are at 
the gate again." 

Tod's light was out and his window open. 
We could see a man bending down outside the 
gate, fumbling with its lock. Presently the bell 
was pulled very gently, as if the ringer thought 
the house might be asleep and he did not want 
to awaken it. There was something quite 
ghostly to the imagination in being disturbed at 
night like this. 

"Who's there T shouted Tod. 

" I am," answered a cautious voice. " I want 
to see Captain Copperas." 

" Come along, Johnny. This is getting com- 

We went out to the gate, and saw a man : he 
was not either of the two who had come before. 
Tod answered him as he had answered them, 
but did not open the gate. 

" Are you a friend of the Captain's ?" whis- 
pered the man. 

" Yes, I am," said Tod. " What then T 

" Well, see here," resumed he, in a confidential 
tone. " If I don't get to see him it will be the 
worse for him. I come as a friend ; come to 
warn him." 

" But I tell you he is not in the house," argued 
Tod. " He has let it to me. He has left Cray 

Rose Lodge. 269 

Bay. His address ? No, I cannot give it 

" Very well," said the man, evidently not be- 
lieving a word, *' I am come out of friendliness. If 
you know where he is, you just tell him that 
Jobson has been here, and warns him to look 
out for squalls. That's all." 

" I say, Johnny, I shall begin to fancy we are 
living in some mysterious castle, if this kind of 
thing is to go on," remarked Tod, when the 
man had gone. "It seems deuced queer, alto- 

It seemed queerer still the next morning. For 
a gentleman walked in and demanded payment 
for the furniture. Captain Copperas had for- 
gotten to settle for it, he said — if he had gone 
away. Failing the payment, he should be 
obliged to take away the chairs and tables. 
Tod flew in a rage, and ordered him out of the 
place. Upon which their tongues went in for a 
pitched battle, and gave out some unorthodox 
words. Cooling down by-and-by, an explanation 
was come to. 

He was a member of some general furnish- 
ing firm, ten miles off. Captain Copperas had 
done them the honour to furnish his house from 
their stores, including the piano, paying a small 
portion on account. Naturally they wanted the 
rest. In spite of certain strange doubts that were 
arising touching Captain Copperas, Tod reso- 
lutely refused to give any clue to his addx^^^- 

270 Johnny Ludlow. 

Finally the applicant agreed to leave matters as 
* they were for three or four days, and wrote a 
letter to be forwarded to Copperas. 

But the news that arrived from Liverpool 
staggered us more than all. The brokers sent 
back Tod's first letter to Copperas (telling him 
of the grenadier's having marched off with the 
linen), and wrote to say that they didn't know 
any Captain Copperas ; that no gentleman of 
that name was in their employ, or in command 
of any of their ships. 

As Tod had remarked, it seemed deuced 
queer. People began to come in, too, for petty 
accounts that appeared to be owing — a tailor, a 
bootmaker, and others. Betty shed tears. 

One evening, when we had come in from a 
long day's fishing, and were sitting at dinner in 
rather a gloomy mood, wondering what was to 
be the end of it, we caught sight of a man's 
coat whisking its tails up to the front-door. 

" Sit still," cried Tod to me, as the bell rang. 
" It's another of those precious creditors. Betty ! 
don't you open the door. Let the fellow cool 
his heels a bit." 

But, instead [of cooling his heels, the fellow 
stepped aside to our open window, and stood 
there, looking in at us. I leaped out of my chair» 
and nearly out of my skin. It was Mr. Brandon. 

" And what do you two fine gentlemen . think 
of yourselves ?" began he, when we had let him 
in. " You don't starve, at any rate, it seems." 

Rose Lodge. 271 

"You'll take some, won't you,^r. Brandon ?" 
said Tod politely, putting the breast of a duck' 
upon a plate, while I drew a chair for him to the 

Ignoring the offer, he sat down by the window, 
threw his yellow silk handkerchief across his 
head, as a shade against the sun and the air, and 
opened upon our delinquencies in his thinnest 
tones. In the Squire's absence, Mrs. Todhetley 
had given him my letter to read, and begged 
him to come and see after us, for she feared Tod 
might be getting himself into some inextricable 
mess. Old Brandon's sarcasms were keen. To 
make it worse, he had heard of the new compli- 
cations, touching Copperas and the furniture, at 
the Whistling Wind. 

" So !" said he, " you must take a house and 
its responsibilities upon your shoulders, and pay 
the money down, and make no inquiries !" 

" We made lots of inquiries," struck in Tod, 

"Oh, did you ? Then I was misinformed. 
You took care to ascertain whether the landlord 
of the house would accept you as tenant ; 
whether the furniture was the man's own to sell, 
and had no liabilities upon it ; whether the rent 
and taxes had been paid up to that date ?" 

As Tod had done nothing of the kind, he could 
only slash away at the other duck, splashing the 
stuffing about, and bite his lips. 

" You took to a closet of linen, and did not j 

272 Johnny Ludlow. 

think it necessary to examine whether linen was 
there, or whether it was all dumb-show " 

** Tm sure the linen was there when we saw 
it," interrupted Tod. 

" You can't be sure ; you did not handle it, or 
count it. The Squire told you you would hasten 
to make ducks and drakes of your five hundred 
pounds. It must have been burning a hole in 
your pocket. As to you, Johnny Ludlow, I am 
utterly surprised : I did give you credit for pos- 
sessing some sense." 

" I could not help it, sir. Tm sure I should 
never have mistrusted Captain Copperas." But 
doubts had floated in my mind whether the linen 
had not gone away in those boxes of Miss 
Copperas, that I saw the grenadier packing. 

Tod pulled a letter-case out of his breast- 
pocket, selected a paper, and handed it to Mr. 
Brandon. It was the cheque for one hundred 

" I thought of you, sir, before I began upon 
the ducks and drakes. But you were not at 
home, and I could not give it you then. And I 
thank you very much indeed for what you did 
for me." 

Mr. Brandon read the cheque and nodded his 
head sagaciously. 

" rU take it, Joseph Todhetley. If I don't, 
the money will only go in folly." By which I 
fancied he had not meant to have the money re- 
paid to him. 

Rose Lodge. 273 

" I think you are judging me rather hardly," 
said Tod. ** How was I to imagine that the 
man was not on the square ? When the rose^ 
were here, the place was the prettiest place I 
ever saw. And it was dirt-cheap." 

** So was the furniture, to Copperas," cynically 
observed Mr. Brandon. 

** What is done is done," growled Tod. "May 
I give you some raspberry pudding ?" 

" Some what ? Raspberry pudding ! Why, 
1 should not digest it for a week. I want to 
know what you are going to do." 

** / don't know, sir. Do you ?" 

'' Yes. Get out of the place to-morrow. You 
can't stay in it with bare walls : and it's going to 
be stripped, I hear. Green simpletons, you must 
be ! I dare say the landlord will let you off by 
paying him three months' rent. I'll see him 
myself. And you'll both come home with me, 
like two young dogs with their tails burnt." 

"And lose all the money I've spent .'*" cried 

" Ay, and think yourself well off that it is not 
more. You possess no redress ; as to finding 
Copperas, you may as well set out to search for 
the philosopher's stone. It is nobody's fault but 
your own ; and if it shall bring you caution, it 
may be an experience cheaply bought." 

" I could never have believed it of a sailor," 
Todd i-emarked ruefully to old Druff, when we 
were preparing to leave. 

you 111. \?> 

274 Johnny Ludlow. 

" Ugh ! fine sailor he was !" grunted Druff. 
" He war n't a sailor. Not a reglar one. Might 
ha' been about the coast a bit in a collier, per- 
haps — naught more. As to that grenadier, I 
believe she was just another of 'em — ^a sister." 

But we heard a whifif of news later that told 
us Captain Copperas was not so bad as he 
seemed. After he had taken Rose Lodge and 
furnished it, some friend, for whom in his good- 
nature he had stood surety to a large amount, let 
him in for the whole, and ruined him. Honest 
men are driven into by-paths sometimes. 

And so that was the inglorious finale to our 
charming retreat by Bendemeer's Stream. 



IN a side lane of Timberdale, just off the 
churchyard, was the cottage of Jael Batty, 
whose name you have heard before. Side by 
side with it stood another cottage, inhabited by 
Lee, the assistant letter-carrier ; or, as Timber- 
dale generally called him, the letter-man. These 
cottages had a lively look-out, the farrier's shop 
and a few thatched hayricks opposite ; sideways, 
the tombstones in the graveyard. 

Some men are lucky in life, others are un- 
lucky. Andrew Lee was in the latter category. 
He had begun life as a promising farmer, but 
came down in the world. First of all, he had 
to pay a heap of money for some man who had 
persuaded him to become his security, and that 
stripped him of his means. Afterwards a series 
of ill-fortune set in on the farm : crops failed, 
cattle died, and Lee was sold up. Since then, 
he had tried at this and tried at that ; been in 
turn a farmer's labourer, an agent for coal, and 
the proprietor of a shop devoted to \.Vv^ Vi^xsj^x 

276 Johnny Ludlow. 

of the younger members of the community, its 
speciality being bull's-eyes and besoms for birch- 
rods. For some few years now he had settled 
down in this cottage next door to Jael Batty's, 
and carried out the letters at fourteen shillings a 

There were two letter-men, Spicer and Lee. 
But there need not have been two, only that 
Timberdale was so straggling a parish, the 
houses in it lying far and wide. Like other 
things in this world, fortune, even in so trifling 
a matter as these two postmen, was not dealt 
out equally. Spicer had the least work, for he 
took the home delivery, and had the most pay ; 
Lee did all the country tramping, and had only 
the fourteen shillings. But when the place was 
offered to Lee he was at a very low ebb indeed 
and took it thankfully, and thought he was set 
up in riche&Jbr life ; for, as you well know, we 
estimate things by contrast. 

Andrew Lee was not unlucky in his fortunes 
only. Of his three children, not any one had 
prospered. The son married all too young; 
within a year he and his wife were both dead, 
leaving a baby-boy to Lee as a legacy. The 
elder daughter had emigrated to the other end 
of the world with her husband ; and the younger 
daughter had a history. She was pretty and 
good and gentle, but just a goose. Goose that 
she was, though, all the parish liked Mamie 


Lee, the Letter-Man. 277 

About four years before the time I am telling 
of, there came a soldier to Timberdale, on a 
visit to Spicer the letter-carrier, one James West. 
He was related to Spicer's wife ; her nephew, 
or cousin, or something of that ; a tall, good- 
looking, merry-tempered dragoon, with a dash- 
ing carriage and a dashing tongue ; and he ran 
away with the heart of Mamie Lee. That 
might not so much have mattered in the long- 
run, for such privilege is universally allowed to 
the sons of Mars ; but he also ran away with 
her. One fine morning Mr. James West was 
missing from Timberdale, and Mamie Lee was 
missing also. The parish went into a rapture 
of indignation over it, not so much at him as at 
her ; called her a *' baggage," and hoping her 
folly would come home to her. Poor old Lee 
thought he had got his death-blow, and his hair 
turned grey swiftly. ' 

Not more than twelve months had gone by 
when Mamie was back again. Jael Batty was 
running out one evening to get half a pound of 
sugar at Salmon's shop, when she met a young 
woman with a bundle staggering down the lane, 
and keeping under the side of the hedge as if she 
were afraid of falling, or else did not want to be 
seen. Too weak to carry the bundle, she 
seemed ready to sink at every step. Jael Batty, 
who had her curiosity like other people, though 
she was deaf, peered into the bent face, and 
brought herself up with a shriek. 

278 Johnny Ludlow. 

** What, IS it you, Mamie Lee ! Well, the 
impedence of this ! How on earth could you 
pick up the brass to come back here ?" 

" Are my poor father and mother alive ? Do 
they still live here ?" faltered Mamie, turning 
her piteous white face to Jael. 

" They be, both alive ; but it's no thanks to 

you. If they Oh, if I don't believe — ^What 

have you got in that ragged old shawl ?*' 

** It's my baby," answered Mamie ; and she 
passed on. 

Andrew Lee took her in amidst sobs and 
tears, and thanked Heaven she was come back, 
and welcomed her unreasonably. The parish 
went on at him for it, showering down plenty of 
abuse, and asking whether he did not feel 
ashamed of himself. There was even a talk of 
his post as letter-carrier being taken from him ; 
but it came to nothing. Rymer was postmaster 
then, though he was about giving it up ; and he 
was a man of too much sorrow himself to inflict 
it needlessly upon another. On the contrary, 
he sent down cordials and tonics and things for 
Mamie, who had had a fever and come home 
dilapidated as to strength, and never charged 
for them. Thomas Rymer's own heart was 
slowly breaking, so he could feel for her. 

The best or the worst of it was, that Mamie 
said she was married. Which assertion was of 
course not believed, and only added to her sin 
in the eyes of Timberdale. The tale she told 

Lee, the Letter- Man. 279 

was this. That James West had taken her 
straight to some town, where he had previously- 
had the banns put up, and married her there. 
The day after the marriage they had sailed for 
Ireland, whither he had to hasten to join his 
regiment, his leave of absence having expired. 
At the end of some seven or eight months, the 
regiment was ordered to India, and he departed 
with it, leaving her in her obscure lodging at 
Cork. By-and-by her baby was born ; she was 
very ill then, very ; had fever and a cough, and 
sundry other complications ; and what with lying 
ill eight weeks, and being obliged to pay a 
doctor and a nurse all that while, besides other 
expenses, she spent all the money Mr. James 
West left with her, and had no choice between 
starvation and coming back to Timberdale. 

You should have heard how this account was 
scoffed at. The illness, and the baby, and the 
poverty nobody disputed — they were plain 
enough to be seen by all Timberdale ; and what 
better could she expect, they*d like to know ? 
But when she came to talk about the church (or 
rather, old Lee for her, second-hand, for she was 
not at all a person now to be spoken to by 
Timberdale), then their tongues were let loose 
in all kinds of inconvenient questions. Which 
was the town ? — and which was the church in 
it? — and where were her ** marriage lines ".^ 
Mamie could give no answer at all. She did 
not know the name of the town, or where it was 

28o Johnny Ludlow. 

situated. James had taken her with him in the 
train to it, and that was all she knew ; and she 
did not know the name of the church or the 
clergyman ; and as to marriage lines, she had 
never heard of any. So, as Timberdale said, 
what could you make out of this, save one thing 
— that Mr. Jim West had been a deep rogue, 
and taken her in. At best, it could have been 
but a factitious ceremony ; perhaps in some barn, 
got up like a church for the occasion, said the 
more tolerant, willing to give excuse for pretty 
Mamie if they could ; but the chief portion of 
Timberdale looked upon the whole as an out- 
and-out invention of her own. 

Poor Andrew Lee had never taken a hopeful 
view of the affair from the first ; but he held to 
the more tolerant opinion that Mamie had been 
herself deceived, and he could not help being 
cool to Spicer in consequence. Spicer in retalia- 
tion threw all the blame upon Mamie, and held 
up Mr. James West as a shining paragon of 

But, as the time went on, and no news, no 
letter or other token arrived from West, Mamie 
herself gave in. That he had deceived her she 
slowly became convinced of, and despair took 
hold of her heart. Timberdale might have the 
satisfaction of knowing that she judged herself 
just as humbly and bitterly as they judged her, 
and was grieving herself to a shadow. Three 
years had passed now since her return, and the 

Lee, the Letter-Man. 281 

affair was an event of the past ; and Mamie wore, 
metaphorically, the white sheet of penitence, 
and hardly dared to show her face outside the 

But you may easily see how all this, besides 
the sorrow, told upon Lee. Fourteen shillings 
a week for a man and his wife to exist upon 
cannot be called much, especially if they have 
seen better days and been used to better living. 
When the first grandchild, poor little orphan, 
arrived to be kept, Lee and his wife both thought 
it hard, though quite willing to take him ; and 
now they had Mamie and another grandchild. 
This young one was named Jemima, for Mamie 
had called her after her faithless husband. Five 
people and fourteen shillings a week, and pro- 
visions dear, and house-rent to pay, and Lee's 
shoes perpetually wanting to be mended ! One 
or two generous individuals grew rather fond of 
telling Lee that he would be better off in the 

It was November weather. A cold, dark, 
biting, sharp, drizzly morning. Andrew Lee 
got up betimes, as usual : he had to be out 
soon after seven to be ready for his letter 
delivery. In the kitchen when he entered it, 
he found his daughter there before him, coaxing 
the kettle to boil on the handful of fire, that she 
might make him his cup of tea and give him his 
breakfast. She was getting uncommonly weak 
and shadowy -looking now : a little woman, not 

282 Johnny Ludlow. 

much more yet than a girl, with a shawl folded 
about her shivering shoulders, a hacking cough, 
and a mild, nonresisting face. Her father had 
lately told her that he would not have her get 
up in a morning ; she was not fit for it : what 
he wanted done, he could do himself. 

" Now, Mamie, why are you here "i You 
should attend to what I say, child." 

She got up from her knees and turned her 
sad brown eyes towards him : bright and sweet 
eyes once, but now dimmed with the tears and 
sorrow of the last three years. 

*' I am better up ; I am indeed, father. Not 
sleeping much, I get tired of lying : and my 
cough is worse a-bed." 

He sat down to his cup of tea and to the 
bread she placed before him. Some mornings 
there was a little butter, or dripping, or mayhap 
bacon fat ; but this morning he had to eat his 
bread dry. It was getting near the end of the 
week, and the purse ran low. Lee had a horror 
of debt, and would never let his people run into 
it for the smallest sum if he knew it. 

*' It*s poor fare for you this morning, father; 
but I *11 try and get a morsel of boiled pork for 
dinner, and we'll have it ready early. I expect 
to be paid to-day for the bit of work I have been 
doing for young Mrs. Ashton. Some of those 
greens down by the apple-trees want cutting : 
they'll be nice with a bit of pork." 

Lee turned his eyes in the direction of the 

LeCy the Letter-Man. 283 

greens and the apple-trees ; but the window 
was misty, and he could only see the drizzle of 
rain-drops on the diamond panes. As he sat 
there, a thought came into his head that he was 
beginning to feel old : old, and worn, and 
shaky. Trouble ages a man more than work, 
more than time ; and Lee never looked at the 
wan face of his daughter, and at its marks of 
sad repentance, but he felt anew the sting which 
was always pricking him more or less. What 
with that, and his difficulty to keep the pot 
boiling, and his general state of shakiness, Lee 
was older than his years. Timberdale had got 
into the habit of calling him Old Lee, you see ; 
but he was not sixty yet. He had a nice face ; 
when it was a young face it must have been like 
Mamie's. It had furrows in it now, and his 
scanty grey locks hung down on each side of it. 

Putting on his top-coat, which was about as 
thin as those remarkable sheets told of by 
Brian O'Linn, Lee went out buttoning it. The 
rain had ceased, but the cold wind took him as 
he went down the narrow garden-path, and he 
could not help shivering. 

"It's a bitter wind to-day, father; in the 
north-east, I think,'* said Mamie, standing at 
the door to shut it after him. ** I hope there'll 
be no letters for Crabb.*' 

Lee, as he pressed along in the teeth of the 
cruel wind, was hoping the same. Salmon the 
grocer, who had taken the post-office, as ma^ b^ 

284 Johnny Ludlow. 

remembered, when the late Thomas Rymer gave 
it up, was sorting the letters in the room behind 
the shop when Lee went in. Spicer, a lithe, 
active, dark-eyed man of forty-five, stood at the 
end of the table waiting for his bag. Lee went 
and stood beside him, giving him a brief good- 
morning : he had not taken kindly to the man 
since West ran away with Mamie. 

** A light load this morning," remarked Mr. 
Salmon to Spicer, as he handed him his appro- 
priate bag. ** And here's yours, Lee," he added 
a minute after : " not heavy either. Too cold 
for people to write, I suppose." 

'* Anything for Crabb, sir ?" 

** For Crabb ? Well, yes, I think there is. 
For the Rector." 

Upon going out, Spicer turned one way, Lee 
the other. Spicer's district was easy as play ; 
Lee s was a regular country tramp, the farm- 
houses lying in all the four points of the com- 
pass. The longest tramp was over to us at 
Crabb. And why the two houses, our own and 
Coney s farm, should continue to be comprised 
in the Timberdale delivery, instead of that of 
Crabb, people could never understand. It was 
so still, however, and nobody bestirred himself 
to alter it. For one thing, we were not often at 
Crabb Cot, and the Coneys did not have many 
letters, so it was not like an every-day delivery : 
we chanced to be there just now. 

The letter spoken, of by Salmon, which would 

Lee, the Letter-Man. 285 

bring Lee to Crabb this morning, was for the 
Reverend Herbert Tanerton, Rector of Timber- 
dale. He and his wife, who was a niece of old 
Coney's, were now staying at the farm on a 
week's visit, and he had given orders to Salmon 
that his letters, during that week, were to be 
delivered at the farm instead of at the rectory. 

Lee finally got through his work, all but this 
one letter for the parson, and turned his steps 
our way. As ill-luck had it — the poor fellow 
thought it so afterwards — he could not take 
the short and sheltered way through Crabb 
Ravine, for he had letters that morning to Sir 
Robert Tenby, at Bellwood, and also for the 
Stone House on the way to it. By the time 
he turned on the solitary road that led to Crabb, 
Lee was nearly blown to smithereens by the 
fierce north-east wind, and chilled to the marrow. 
All his bones ached ; he felt low, frozen, ill, and 
wondered whether he should get over the ground 
without breaking down. 

" I wish I might have a whiff at my 

A pipe is to many people the panacea for all 
earthly discomfort ; it was so to Lee. But only 
in the previous February had occurred that 
damage to Helen Whitney's letter, when she 
was staying with us, which the authorities had 
made much of; and Lee was afraid to risk a 
similar mishap again. He carried Salmon's 
general orders with him : not to smoke d\it\xv^ ^ 

286 Johnny Ludlow, 

his round. Once the letters were delivered, he 
might do so. 

His weak grey hair blowing about, his thin 
and shrunken frame shivering and shaking as 
the blasts took him, his empty post-bag thrust 
into his pocket, and the Rector of Timberlale's 
letter in his hand, Lee toiled along on his weary 
way. To a strong man the walk would have 
been nothing, and not much to Lee in fairer 
weather. It was the cold and wind that tired 
him. And though, after giving vent to the 
above wish, he held out a little while, presently 
he could resist the comfort no longer, but drew 
forth his pipe and struck a match to light it. 

How it occurred he never knew, never knew 
to his dying day ; but the flame from the match 
caught the letter, and set it alight. It was that 
thin foreign paper that catches so quickly, and 
the match was obstinate, and the wind blew the 
flame about. He pressed the fire out with his 
hands, but a portion of the letter was burnt. 

If Timbuctoo, or some other far-away place 
had been within the distance of a man's legs, 
Lee would have made straight off for it. His 
pipe on the ground, the burnt letter underneath 
his horrified gaze, and his hair raised on end, 
stood he. What on earth should he do .'^ It 
had been only a pleasant young lady's letter last 
time, and only a little scorched ; now it was the 
stern Rector's. 

There was but otve. tKitv^ he could do — go on 

Lee, the Letter- Man. 287 

with the letter to its destination. It often 
happens in these distressing catastrophes 
that the one only course open is the least 
palatable. His pipe hidden away in his pocket 
— for Lee had had enough of it for that 
morning — and the damaged letter humbly held 
out in his hand, Lee made his approach to the 

I chanced to be standing at its door with Tom 
Coney and Tod. Those two were going out 
shooting, and the Squire had sent me running 
across the road with a message to them. Lee 
came up, and, with a face that seemed greyer 
than usual, and a voice from which most of its 
sound had departed, he told his tale. 

Tom Coney gave a whistle. ** Oh, by George, 
Lee, won't you catch it ! The Rector " 

** The Rector's a regular Martinet, you know," 
Tom Coney was about to add, but he was 
stopped by the appearance of the Rector him- 

Herbert Tanerton had chanced to be in the 
little oak-panelled hall and caught the drift of 
the tale. A frown sat on his cold face as he 
came forward, a frown that would have befitted 
an old face better than a young one. 

He was not loud. He did not fly into a 
passion as Helen Whitney did. He just took 
the unfortunate letter in his hand, and looked at 
it, and looked at Lee, and spoke quietly and 

288 Johnny Ludlow. 

*' This is, I believe, the second time you have 
burnt the letters ?" and Lee dared not deny it. 

** And in direct defiance of orders. You are 
not allowed to smoke when on your rounds." 

** ril never attempt to smoke again, when on 
my round, as long as I live, sir, if youll only be 
pleased to look over it this time," gasped Lee, 
holding up his hands in a piteous way. But 
the Rector was one who went in for "duty," 
and the appeal found no favour with him. 

"No," said he, " it would be to encourage 
wrong-doing, Lee. Meet me at eleven o'clock 
at Salmon's." 

" Never again, sir, as long as I live !" pleaded 
Lee. "Til give you my word of that, sir ; and 
I never broke it yet. Oh, sir, if you will but 
have pity upon me, and not report me !" 

" At eleven o'clock," repeated Herbert Taner- 
ton decisively, as he turned indoors again. 

" What an old stupid you must be !" cried 
Tod to Lee. "He won't excuse you ; he's the 
wrong sort of parson to do it." 

"And a pretty kettle of fish you've made of 
it !" added Tom Coney. "I'd not have minded 
much, had it been my letter ; but he is dif- 
ferent, you know." 

Poor Lee turned his eyes on me : perhaps 
remembering that he had asked me. the other 
time, to stand his friend with Miss Whitney. 
Nobody could be his friend now : when the 
Rector took up a grievance he did not let it go 

Lee^ the Letter-Man, 289 

again ; especially if it were his own. Good- 
hearted Jack, his sailor-brother, would have 
screened Lee, though all the letters in the 
parish had got burnt. 

At eleven o'clock precisely the Reverend 
Herbert Tanerton entered Salmon's shop ; 
and poor Lee, not daring to disobey his man- 
date, crept in after him. They had it out in 
the room behind. Salmon was properly severe ; 
told Lee he was not sure but the offence in- 
volved penal servitude, and that he deserved 
hanging. A prosperous tradesman in his small 
orbit, the man was naturally inclined to be dic- 
tatorial, and was ambitious of standing well with 
his betters, especially the Rector. Lee was 
suspended there and then ; and Spicer was in- 
formed that for a time, until other arrangements 
were made, he must do double duty. Spicer, 
vexed at this, for it would take him so much 
the more time from his legitimate business, that 
of horse doctor, told Lee he was a fool, and 
deserved not only hanging but drawing and 

" What's up ?" asked Ben Rymer, crossing 
the road from his own shop to accost Lee, as 
the latter came out of Salmon's. Ben was the 
chemist now — had been since Margaret's mar- 
riage — and was steady ; and Ben, it was said, 
would soon pass his examination for surgeon. 
He had his hands in his pockets and his white 
apron on, for Mr. Ben Rymer had tvo feJsj^ ^ 

VOL. III. \^ 

290 Johnny Ludlow. 

pride, and would as soon show himself to Tim- 
berdale in an apron as in a dress- coat. 

Lee told his tale, confessing the sin of the 
morning. Mr. Rymer nodded his head signifi- 
cantly several times as he heard it, and pushed 
his red hair from his capacious forehead. 

** They'll not look over it this time, Lee." 

** If I could but get some one to be my friend 
with the Rector, and ask him to forgive me," 
said Lee. ** Had your father been alive, Mr. 
Rymer, I think he would have done it for me." 

" Very likely. No good to ask me — if that s 
what you are hinting at. The Rector looks upon 
me as a black sheep and turns on me the cold 
shoulder. But I don't think he is one to listen, 
Lee, though the King came to ask him." 

"What I shall do I don't know," bewailed 
Lee. "If the place is stopped, the pay stops, 
and I've not another shilling in the world, or 
the means of earning one. My wife's ailing, 
and Mamie gets worse day by day ; and there 
are the two little ones. They are all upon me." 

" Some people here say, Lee, that you should 
have sent Mamie and her young one to the 
workhouse, and not have charged yourself with 

" True, sir, several have told me that. But 
people don't know what a father s feelings are 
till they experience them. Mary was my own 
child that I had dandled on my knee, and 
watched grow up itv her pretty ways, and I was 

Lee, tlie Letter-Man, 291 

fonder of her than any earthly thing. The 
workhouse might not have taken her in." 

**She had forfeited all claim on you. And 
come home only to break your heart." 

"True," meekly assented Lee. ** But the 
Lord has told us we are to forgive, not seven 
times, but seventv times seven. If I had turned 
her adrift from my door and heart, sir, who 
knows but I might have been driven adrift my- 
self at the Last Day." 

Evidently it was of no use talking to one so 
unreasonable as Lee. And Mr. Ben Rymer 
turned back to his shop. A customer was 
entering it with a prescription and a medicine 

One morning, close upon Christmas, Mrs. Tod- 
hetley despatched me to Timberdale through 
the snow for a box of those delectable ** House- 
hold Pills " which have been mentioned before : 
an invention of the late Mr. Rymer's, and con- 
tinued to be made up by Ben. Ben was behind 
the counter as usual, when I entered, and shook 
the snow off my boots on the door-mat. 

** Anything else T' he asked me presently, 
wrapping up the box. 

"Not to-day. There goes old Lee! How 
thin he looks !" 

" Starvation,*' said Ben, craning his long neck 
to look between the coloured globes at Lee oa 

\^ — 1 

292 Johnny Ludlow. 

the other side the way. ** Lee has nothing 
coming in now." 

** What do they all live upon ?" 

** Goodness knows. Upon things that he 
pledges, and the vegetables in the garden. I 
was in there last night, and I can tell you it was 
a picture, Mr. Johnny Ludlow." 

" A picture of what ?'' 

** Misery : distress : hopelessness. It is several 
weeks now since Lee earned anything, and they 
have been all that while upon short com- 
mons. Some days on no commons at all, I 

" But what took you there ?'' 

" I heard such an account of the girl — Mamie 
— yesterday afternoon ; of her cough and her 
weakness ; that I thought I 'd see if any of my 
drugs would do her good. But it's food they 
all want." 

"Is Mamie very ill T 

"Very ill indeed. Fm not sure but she's 

" It is a dreadful thing." 

" One can't ask too many professional ques- 
tions — people are down upon you for that before 
you have passed," resumed Ben, alluding to his 
not being qualified. ** But I sent her in a 
cordial or two, and I spoke to Darbyshire ; so 
perhaps he will look in upon her to-day." 

Ben Rymer might have been a black sheep 
onc^ upon a time, b\i\. Ive Kad not a bad heart. 

LeCy the Letter-Man. 293 

I began wondering whether Mrs. Todhetley 
could help them. 

'* Is Mamie Lee still able to do any sewing ?" 

** About as much as I could do it. Not she. 
I shall hear what Darbyshire's report is. They 
would certainly be better off in the workhouse." 

** I wish they could be helped !" 

*' Not much chance of that," said Ben. '* She 
is a sinner, and he is a sinner: that's what 
Timberdale says, you know. People in these 
enlightened days are so very self-righteous !" 

'* How is Lee a sinner i^" 

** How ! Why, has he not burnt up the 
public's letters ? Mr. Tanerton leads the van 
in banning him, and Timberdale follows." 

1 went home, questioning whether our folks 
would do anything to help the Lees. Nobody 
called out against ill-doings worse than the 
Squire ; and nobody was more ready than he to 
lend a helping hand when the ill-doers were 
fainting for lack of it. 

It chanced that, just about the time I was 
talking to Ben Rymer, Mr. Darbyshire, the 
doctor at Timberdale, called at Lee's. He was 
a little, dark man, with an irritable temper and 
a turned-up nose, but good as gold at heart. 
Mamie Lee lay back in a chair, her head on a 
pillow, weak and wan and weary, the tears 
slowly rolling down her cheeks. Darbyshire 
was feeling her pulse, and old Mrs. Lee pottered 
about, bringing sticks from the garden to (e.e.A 

294 ' Johnny Ltidlow. 

the handful of fire. The two children sat on 
the brick floor. 

** If it were not for leaving my poor little one, 
I should be glad to die, sir," she was saying. 
" I shall be glad to go : I hope it is not wrong 
to say it. She and I have been a dreadful 
charge upon them here." 

Darbyshire looked round the kitchen. It was 
nearly bare : the things had gone to the pawn- 
broker s. Then he looked at her. 

'^ There's no need for you to die yet. Don't 
get that fallacy in your head. YouU come 
round fast enough with a little care." 

"No, sir, Tm afraid not ; I think I am past 
it. It has all come of the trouble, sir ; and 
perhaps when Tm gone, the neighbours will 
judge me more charitably. I believed with all 
my heart it was a true marriage — and I hope 
youll believe me when I say it, sir ; it never 
came into my mind to imagine otherwise. And 
I'd have thought the whole world would have 
deceived me, sooner than James." 

**Ah," says Darbyshire, "most girls think 
that. Well, rU send you in some physic to 
soothe the pain in the chest. But what you 
most want, you see, is kitchen physic." 

" Mr. Rymer has been very good in sending 

me cordials and cough-mixture, sir. Mother s 

cough is bad, and he sent some to her as well." 

"Ah, yes. Mrs. Lee, I am telling your 

daug^hter that what. sKe most wants is kitchen 

Lee, the Letter-Man. 295 

physic. Good kitchen physic, you understand. 
You'd be none the worse yourself for some of it." 

Dame Lee, coming in just then in her pattens, 
tried to put her poor bent back as upright as she 
could, and shook her head before answering. 

*' Kitchen physic don't come in our way now, 
Dr. Darbyshire. We just manage not to starve 
quite, and that s all. Perhaps, sir, things may 
take a turn. The Lord is over all, and He sees 
our need." 

*' He dave me some pep'mint d ops," said 
the little one, who had been waiting to put in 
her word. ** Andy, too." 

** Who did T asked the doctor. 

" Mr. 'Ymer." 

Darbyshire patted the little straw-coloured 
head, and went out. An additional offence in 
the eyes of Timberdale was that the child's 
fair curls were just the pattern of those on the 
head of James the deceiver. 

** Well, have you seen Mamie Lee ?" asked 
Ben Rymer, who chanced to be standing at his 
shop-door after his dinner, when Darbyshire 
was passing by from paying his round of visits. 

''Yes, I have seen her. There's no radical 

" Don't you think her uncommonly ill ?" 

Darbyshire nodded. ** But she's not too far 
gone to be cured. She'd get well fast enough 
under favourable circumstances." 

** Meaning good food ?" 

296 Johnny Ludlow. 

** Meaning food and other things. Peace of 
mind, for instance. She is just fretting herself 
to death. Shame, remorse, and all that, have 
got hold of her ; besides grieving her heart out 
after the fellow." 

** Her voice is so hollow ! Did you notice 


** Hollow from weakness only. As to her 
being too far gone, she is not at present ; at 
least, that's my opinion ; but how soon she may 
become so I can't say. With good kitchen 
physic, as IVe just told them, and ease of mind 
to help me, I'll answer for it that I'd have her 
well in a month ; but the girl has neither the one 
nor the other. She seems to look upon coming 
death in the light of a relief, rather than other- 
wise ; a relief to her own mental trouble, and a 
relief to the household, in the shape of saving it 
what she eats and drinks. In such a condition 
as this, you must be aware that the mind does 
not help the body by striving for existence, it 
makes no effort to struggle back to health ; and 
there's where Mamie Lee will fail. Circum- 
stances are killing her, not the disease." 

** Did you try her lungs i*" 

" Partially. Tm sure I am right. The girl 
will probably die, but she need not die of neces- 
sity ; though I suppose there will be no help for 
it. Good-day." 

Mr. Darbyshire walked away in the direction 
of his house, where Vv\s drnxver was waiting : and 

Lee^ the Letter-Man. 297 

Ben Rymer disappeared within doors, and began 

to pound some rhubarb (or what looked like it) 
in a mortar. He was pounding away like mad, 
with all the strength of his strong hands, when 
who should come in but Lee. Lee had never 
been much better than a shadow of late years, 
but you should have seen him now, with his grey 
hair straggling about his meek, wan face. You 
should have seen his clothes, too, and the old 
shoes out at the toes and sides. Burning 
people*s letters was of course an unpardonable 
offence, not to be condoned. 

*' Mamie said, sir, that you were good enough 
to tell her I was to call in for some of the cough 
lozenges that did her so much good. But *' 

**Ay," interrupted Ben, getting down a box 
of the lozenges. ** Don't let her spare them. 
They'll not interfere with anything Mr. Darby- 
shire may send. I hear he has been." 

But that those were not the days when beef- 
tea was sold in tins and gallipots, Ben Rymer 
might have added some to the lozenges. As he 
was handing the box to Lee, something in the 
man's wan and worn and gentle face put him in 
mind of his late father's, whose heart Mr. Ben 
had helped to break. A great pity took the 

*' You would like to be reinstated in your 
place, Lee ?" he said suddenly. 

Lee could not answer at once, for the pain at 
his throat and the moisture in his eyes that tiNs. 

298 Johnny Ludlow. 

notion called up. His voice, when he did speak,, 
was as hollow and mild as Mamie's. 

** There's no hope of that, sir. For a week 
after it was taken from me, I thought of nothing 
else, night or day, but that Mr. Tanerton might 
perhaps forgive me and get Salmon to put me 
on again. But the time for hoping that went 
by : as you know, Mr. Rymer, they put young 
Jelf in my place. I shall never forget the blow 
it was to me when I heard it. The other morn- 
ing I saw Jelf crossing that bit of waste ground 
yonder with my old bag slung on his shoulder,, 
and for a moment I thought the pain would have 
killed me.*' 

** It is hard lines,'' confessed Ben. 

** I have striven and struggled all my life 
long; only myself knows how sorely, save 
God ; and only He can tell, for I am sure I 
can^t, how I have contrived to keep my head 
any way above water. And now it's under 

Taking the box, which Ben Rymer handed to 
hrm, Lee spoke a word of thanks, and went out. 
He could not say much ; heart and spirit were 
alike broken. Ben called to his boy to mind 
the shop, and went over to Salmon's. That self- 
sufficient man and prosperous tradesman was 
sitting down at his^ desk in the shop-corner, 
complacently digesting his dinner — which had 
been a good one, to judge by his red face. 

^' Can't you manage to do something for Lee ?"^ 

Lee, the Letter-Man. 299 

began Ben, after looking to see that they were 
alone. " He is at a rare low ebb." 

** Do something for Lee ?" repeated Salmon. 
'' What could I do for him ?" 

** Put him in his place again." 

*' I dare say !" Salmon laughed as he spoke, 
and then demanded whether Ben was a fool. 

** You might do it if you would," said Ben. 
** As to Lee, he won't last long, if things con- 
tinue to be as they are. Better give him a 
chance to live a little longer." 

** Now what do you mean ?" demanded 
Salmon. "Why don't you ask me to put a 
weathercock on yonder malt-house of Pashley's ? 
Jelf has got Lee's place, and you know it." 

** But Jelf does not intend to keep it." 

** Who says he does not ?" 

** He says it. He told me yesterday that he 
was sick and tired of the tramping, and meant 
to resign. He only took it as a temporary con- 
venience, while he waited for a clerkship he was 
trying for at a brewery at Worcester. And he 
is to get that with the new year." 

'* Then what does Jelf mean by talking about 
it to others before he has spoken to me ?" cried 
Salmon, going into a temper. *' He thought to 
leave me and the letters at a pinch, I suppose ! 
I'll teach him better." 

" You may teach him anything you like,^ i f 
you'll put Lee on again. I'll go bail that he 
won't get smoking again on his rounds. I tK\x\kL 

300 Johnny Ludlow. 

it is just a toss-up of life or death to him. 
Come ! do a good turn for once, Salmon." 

Salmon paused. He was not bad-hearted, 
only self-important. 

*' What would Mr. Tanerton say to it T 

Ben did not answer. He knew that there, 
after Salmon himself, was where the difficulty 
would lie. 

*' All that you have been urging goes for 
nonsense, Rymer. Unless the Rector came to 
me and said, ' You may put Lee on again,' I 
should not, and could not, attempt to stir in the 
matter; and you must know that as well as I 

" Can't somebody see Tanerton, and talk to 
him } One would think that the sight of Lee's 
face would be enough to soften him, without 
anything else." 

** I don't know who'd like to do it," returned 
Salmon. And there the conference ended, for 
the apprentice came in from his dinner. 

Very much to our surprise, Mr. Ben Rymer 
walked in that same evening to Crabb Cot, and 
was admitted to the Squire. In spite of Mr. 
Ben's former ill-doings, which he had got to 
know of, the Squire treated Ben civilly, in re- 
membrance of his father, and of his grandfather, 
the clergyman. Ben's errand was to ask the 
Squire to intercede for Lee with Herbert Taner- 
ton. And the Pater, after talking largely about 
the iniquity of, ^s coYvTve.cted with burnt 

Lee, the Letter-Man. 301 

letters, came round to Ben's way of thinking, 
and agreed to go to the rectory. 

** Herbert Tanerton s harder than nails, and 
you'll do no good," remarked Tod, watching us 
away on the following morning ; for the Pater 
took me with him to break the loneliness of the 
walk. ** He'll turn as cold to you as a stone the 
moment you bring up the subject, sir. Tell me 
I'm a story-teller when you come back if he does 
not, Johnny." 

We took the way of the Ravine. It was a 
searching day ; the wintry wind keen and " un- 
kind as man's ingratitude." Before us, toiling 
up the descent to the Ravine at the other end, 
and coming to a halt at the stile to pant and 
cough, went a wobegone figure, thinly clad, 
which turned out to be Lee himself. He had a 
small bundle of loose sticks in his hand, which 
he had come to pick up. The Squire was pre- 
paring a kind of blowing-up greeting for him, 
touching lighted matches and carelessness, but 
the sight of the mild, starved grey face disarmed 
him ; he thought, instead, of the days when Lee 
had been a prosperous farmer, and his tone 
changed to one of pity. 

'* Hard times, I'm afraid, Lee." 

** Yes, sir, very hard. I've known hard times 
before, but I never thought to see any so cruel 
as these. There's one comfort, sir; when 
things come to this low ebb, life can't last 

302 Johnny Ludlow. 

** Stuff," said the Squire. ** For all you know, 
you may be back in your old place soon : and 
— and Mrs. Todhetley will find some sewing 
when Mamie's well enough to do it." 

A faint light, the dawn-ray of hope, shone in 
Lee's eyes. ** Oh, sir, if it could be ! — and I 
heard a whisper to-day that young Jelf refuses 
to keep the post. If it had been anybody's 
letter but Mr. Tanerton's, perhaps — but he does 
not forgive." 

'* I'm on my way now to ask him to," cried the 
Pater, unable to keep in the news. " Cheer up, 
Lee — of course you'd pass your word not to go 
burning letters again." 

*' I'd not expose myself to the danger, sir. 
Once I got my old place back, I would never 
take out a pipe with me on my rounds ; never, 
so long as I live." 

Leaving him with his new hope and the 
bundle of firewood, we trudged on to the 
rectory. Herbert and Grace were both at 
home, and glad to see us. 

But the interview ended in smoke. Tod had 
foreseen the result exactly : the Rector was 
harder than nails. He talked of "example" 
and ** Christian duty ;" and refused point-blank 
to allow Lee to be reinstated. The Squire gave 
him a few sharp words, and flung out of the 
house in a passion. 

** A pretty Christian he is, Johnny! He was 
coJd and hard as a boy. I once told him so 

Lee, the Letter-Man, 303 

before his stepfather, poor Jacob Lewis ; but 
he is colder and harder now." 

At the turning of the road by Timberdale 
Court, we came upon Lee. After taking his 
faggots home, he waited about to see us and 
hear the news. The Pater's face, red and angry, 
told him the truth. 

" There's no hope for me, sir, I fear r^" 

" Not a bit of it," growled the Squire. ** Mr. 
Tanerton won't listen to reason. Perhaps we 
can find some other light post for you, my poor 
fellow, when the winter shall have turned. You 
had better get indoors out of this biting cold ; 
and here's a couple of shillings." 

So hope went clean out of Andrew Lee. 

Christmas Day and jolly weather. Snow on 
the ground to one's heart's content. Holly and 
ivy on the walls indoors, and great fires blazing 
on the hearths; turkeys, and plum-puddings, 
and oranges, and fun. That was our lucky 
state at Crabb Cot and at Timberdale generally, 
but not at Andrew Lee's. 

The sweet bells were chiming people out of 
church, as was the custom at- Timberdale on 
high festivals. Poor Lee sat listening to them, 
his hand held up to his aching head. There 
had been no church for him : he had neither 
clothes to go in nor face to sit through the 
service. Mamie, wrapped in an old bed-quilt, 
lay back on the pillow by the tire, TK^ ^^-^ 4^ 

304 Johnny Ludlow. 

merchant, opening his heart, had sent a sack 
each of best Staffordshire coal to ten poor 
families, and Lee*s was one. Except the 
Squire's two shillings, he had had no money 
given to him. A loaf of bread was in the cup- 
board ; and a saucepan of broth, made of carrots 
and turnips out of the garden, simmered on the 
trivet ; and that would be their Christmas 

Uncommonly low was Mamie to-day. The 
longer she endured this famished state of affairs 
the weaker she got ; it stands to reason. She 
felt that a few days, perhaps hours, would finish 
her up. The little ones were upstairs with 
their grandmother, so that she had an interval 
of rest ; and she lay back, her breath short and 
her chest aching as she thought of the past. 
Of the time when James West, the handsome 
young man in his gay regimentals, came to woo 
her, as the soldier did the miller s daughter. 
In those happy days, when her heart was light 
and her song blithe as a bird's in May, that 
used to be one of her songs, *' The Banks of 
Allan Water." Her dream had come to the 
same ending as the one told of in the ballad, 
and here she lay, deserted and dying. Timber- 
dale was in the habit of prosaically telling her 
that she had ** brought her pigs to a fine 
martet." Of the market there could be no 
question ; but when Mamie looked into the 
past she saw more o? tomaAvce than pigs. The 

LeCy the Letter-Man. 305 

breaking out of the church bells forced a rush 
of tears to her heart and eyes. She tried to 
battle with the feeling, then turned and put her 
cheek against her father's shoulder. 

** Forgive me, father!" she besought him, in 
a sobbing whisper. ** I don*t think it will be 
long now ; I want you to say you forgive me 
before I go. If — if you can." 

And the words finished up for Lee what the 
bells had only partly done. He broke down, 
and sobbed with his daughter. 

** IVe never thought there was need of it, or 

to say it, child ; and if there had been 

Christ forgave all. * Peace on earth and good- 
will to men.' The bells are ringing it out now. 
He will soon take us to Him, Mamie, my for- 
lorn one : forgiven ; yes, forgiven ; and in His 
beautiful world there is neither hunger, nor 
disgrace, nor pain. You are dying of that cold 
you caught in the autumn, and I shan*t be long 
behind you. There's no longer any place for 
me here.'' 

*' Not of the cold, father ; I am not dying of 
that, but of a broken heart." 

Lee sobbed. He did not answer. 

** And I should like to leave my forgiveness 
to James, should he ever come back here," 
she whispered : " and — and my love. Please 
tell him that I'd have got well if I could, if only 
for the chance of seeing him once again in this 
world ; and tell him that I have tKo\i<^\v^ -^JJs. j^ 
VOL. III. 10 

3o6 Johnny Ludlow. 

along there must be some mistake ; that he did 
not mean deliberately to harm me. I think so 
still, father. And if he should notice little 

Mima, please tell him " 

A paroxysm of coughing interrupted the rest 
Mrs. Lee came downstairs with the children 
asking if it was not time for dinner. 

** The little ones are crying out for it, Mamie, 
and Tm sure the rest of us are hungry enough." 
So they bestirred themselves to take up the 
broth, and to take seats round the table. All 
but Mamie, who did not leave her pillow. Very 
watery broth, the carrots and turnips swimming 
in it. 

*' Say grace, Andy," cried his grandmother. 
For they kept up proper manners at Lee's, 
in spite of the short commons. 

** For what we are going to receive," began 
Andy : and then he pulled himself up, and 
looked round. 

Bursting in at the door, a laugh upon his face 
and a white basin in his hands, came Mr. Ben 
Rymer. The basin was three parts filled with 
delicious slices of hot roast beef and gravy. 

** I thought you might like to eat a bit, as it's 
Christmas Day," said Ben. '*And here's an 
orange or two for you youngsters.'* 

Pulling the oranges out of his pocket, and 
not waiting to be thanked, Ben went off again. 
But he did not tell them what he was laughing 
at, or the trick \\e VvaA ^V-a-^ed Kvs mother — in 

Lee, the Letter-Man. 307 

slicing away at the round of beef, and rifling 
the dish of oranges, while her back was turned, 
looking after the servant's doings in the kitchen, 
and the turning-out of the pudding. For Mrs. 
Rymer followed Timberdale in taking an ex- 
aggerated view of Lee*s sins, and declined to 
help him. 

Their faces had hardly done shining with the 
unusual luxury of the beef, when I dropped in. 
We had gone that day to church at Timberdale; 
after the service, the Squire left the others to 
walk on, and, taking me with him, called at the 
rectory to tackle Herbert Tanerton again. The 
parson did not hold out. How could he, with 
those bells, enjoining goodwill, ringing in his 
ears ? — the bells of his own church. But he 
had meant to come round of his own accord. 

** I'll see Salmon about it to-morrow," said he. 
'' I did say just a word to him, yesterday. As 
you go home, Johnny may look in at Lee*s and 
tell him so." 

** And Johnny, if you don't mind carrying it, 
ril send a drop of beef-tea to Mamie,*' whispered 
Grace : " I've not dared to do it before." 

So, when it was getting towards dusk, for the 

Squire stayed, talking of this and that, there I 

was, with the bottle of beef-tea, telling Lee the 

good news that his place would be restored to 

him with the new year, and hearing about Ben 

Rymer's basin of meat. The tears rolled down 

old Lee's haggard cheeks. ^ 

10 — ^ 

3o8 Johnny Ludlow. 

**And I had been fearing that God had 
abandoned me !" he cried, full of remorse for 
the doubt. " Mamie, perhaps you can struggle 
on a bit longer now." 

But the greatest event of all was to come. 
While I stood there, somebody opened the door, 
and looked in. A tall, fine, handsome soldier : 
and I did not at the moment notice that he had 
a wooden leg from the knee downwards. Ben s 
basin of beef had been a surprise, but it was 
nothing to this. Taking a glance round the 
room, it rested on Mamie, and he went up to 
her, the smile on his open face changing to 

** My dear lassie, what's amiss ?" 

*' James !" she faintly screamed ; " it's James!" 
and burst into a fit of sobs on his breast. And 
next the company was augmented by Salmon 
and Ben Rymer, who had seen James West go 
by, and came after him to know what it meant, 
and to blow him up for his delinquencies. 

*' Mamie not married!" laughed James. "Tim- 
berdale has been saying that ? Why, what 
extraordinary people you must be ! We 
were married at Bristol — and IVe got the certi- 
ficate in my knapsack at Spicer's : IVe always 
kept it. You can paste it up on the church- 
door if you like. Not married ! Would Mamie 
else have gone with me, do you suppose ? Or 
should I have taken her ?" 

"But," said poor L.e.e, itvvtvking that heaven 

Lee, the Letter-Man. 309 

must have opened right over his head that 
afternoon to shower down gifts, "why did you 
not marry her here openly ?" 

*' Because I could not get leave to marry 
openly. We soldiers cannot marry at will, you 
know, Mr. Lee. I ought not to have done it, 
that's a fact ; but I did not care to leave Mamie, 
I liked her too well ; and I was punished after- 
wards by not being allowed to take her to India." 

" You never wi-ote, James," whispered Mamie. 

"Yes, I did, dear; I wrote twice to Ireland, 
not knowing you had left it. That was at first, 
just after we landed. Soon we had a skirmish 
with the natives out there, and I got shot in the 
leg and otherwise wounded ; and for a long time 
I lay between life and death, only partly con- 
scious ; and now I am discharged with a pension 
and a wooden leg." 

" Then you can't go for a soldier again !" 
cried Salmon. 

"Not I, I shall settle at Timberdale, I 
think, if I can meet with a pretty little place to 
suit me. I found my poor mother dead when 
I came home, and what was hers is now mine. 
And it will be a comfortable living for us, Mamie, 
of itself: besides a few spare hundred pounds to 
the good, some of which you shall be heartily 
welcome to, Mr. Lee, for you look as if you 
wanted it. And the first thing I shall do, 
Mamie, my dear, will be to nurse you back to 
health. Bless my heart! Not married I I 

3IO Johnny Ludlow. 

wish I had the handling of him that first set 
that idea afloat !" 

" You'll get well now, Mamie," I whispered 
to her. For she was looking better already. 

** Oh, Master Johnny, perhaps I shall ! How 
good God is to us ! And, James — ^James, this 
is the little one. I named her after you : 

" Peace on earth, and goodwill to men!" cried 
old Lee, in his thankfulness. " The bells said 
it to-day.'' 

And as I made off at last to catch up the 
Squire, the little Mima was being smothered 
with kisses in her father's arms. 

** Glory to God in the highest, and on earth 
peace, goodwill towards men !" To every one 
of us, my friends, do the Christmas bells say it, 
as Christmas Day comes round.